With Earth Day only a few days away, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is kicking off the 2009 “Change the World, Start with Energy Star” campaign to educate kids and their families about how to save money and fight climate change through energy efficiency. “People of every age have a part to play in confronting climate change,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “Using Energy Star to cut electricity usage and costs, and educating young people and their families to make a difference — big or small — is how we make real progress.”
But even Consumer Reports says Energy Star is a dubious program. In September 2008, the consumer watchdog spotlighted flaws in the program including that product qualifying standards are lax ─ for example, until recently, 92 percent of dishwashers qualified. If all virtually all dishwashers are “efficient,” is anyone really saving any money on energy use? Consumer Reports also reported that the product testing programs are out-of-date and companies are responsible for testing their own products ─ without any independent verification. When testing an LG-brand French-door refrigerator that was labeled as using an Energy Star compliant 547 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, Consumer Reports found that the actual energy use was twice what was advertised. Apparently the government testing procedures call for refrigerators to be tested with their icemakers turn off. That, of course, is probably not how most people use their refrigerator. Energy efficiency advocates routinely overpromise and under-deliver, according a report from the Congressional Research Service. While numerous private and government sources have claimed that 25- to 30-percent gains in efficiency are possible over a 5- to 15-year time horizon, according to the CRS, “the diffuse nature of efficiency opportunity and the economic complexity of decision making” has historically made moving beyond the 5 percent to 7 percent electricity savings range “a persistent challenge to conservation proponents.” Although more aggressive policies could be attempted, the CRS says, there is “little track record upon which to base projections of future effectiveness.” Government brainwashing kids with dubious politically-based ideas isn’t education; it’s a form of child abuse.