energy star

ENERGY STAR LED Bulbs: The “Bright” Choice

By: Taylor Jantz-Sell

Just like early CFLs, LED technology has its challenges, in particular suffering from limitations affecting brightness and light distribution. The truth is, not all LED lighting is created equal. Bad design can lead to a wide range of problems, some immediately observable and some not. Poorly designed products often come with exaggerated claims, while failing to deliver on quality.

To earn the U.S. EPA’s ENERGY STAR label, LED bulbs must overcome these challenges and demonstrate they can meet consumer expectations, delivering on must-haves like brightness, color quality and the ability to produce light in all directions.

So what does it take for an LED bulb to earn the ENERGY STAR?

  • Light Distribution – If you are looking for an LED bulb to replace a traditional incandescent bulb, for example a 60W, be sure to look for an ENERGY STAR certified “A” type 60W replacement. ENERGY STAR certification on these LED bulbs means they put out the same amount of light (about 800 lumens) and shine light in all directions, just like an incandescent bulb. A non-certified LED ”A” bulb or a “non-standard” type LED bulb may look like your old bulbs but only shine light in a limited range.

LED directionalThe LED bulb on the left shines light directly up, which would make it hard to read a book. The ENERGY STAR LED bulb on the right shines light in every direction, which is what most consumers expect.

  • Color Quality – ENERGY STAR certified LED lighting products have to meet strict color performance measures, proving they can deliver high-quality, consistent color up front and over time. They meet six different color requirements, covering everything from color consistency and uniformity to color fidelity and even a requirement to make sure skin tones and reds appear natural. You can find ENERGY STAR certified lighting in a variety of light colors that meet the mood or look for your space.

LED color

  • Brightness – ENERGY STAR minimum light output requirements ensure you will get the right amount of light for the replacement claim. Light output is measured in lumens, so a bulb needs to produce a minimum of 800 lumens to make a 60W replacement claim. LED lighting products that earn the ENERGY STAR must pass tests to prove they will provide the right amount of light up front and over time. Poorly made LED products won’t provide enough light, and their light output can quickly degrade with time and heat.

And remember, only ENERGY STAR LED bulbs are certified by independent, third parties against a long list of rigorous performance requirements. For more information on ENERGY STAR LED lighting, visit www.energystar.gov/led.

About the author: As lighting program manager for the EPA’s ENERGY STAR program, Ms. Jantz-Sell works with leading manufacturers, retailers and efficiency programs to promote and advance the adoption of ENERGY STAR certified lighting products. Ms. Jantz-Sell leads the development of voluntary performance requirements for energy efficient lighting products and develops education materials and tools to aid consumers in understanding energy efficient lighting.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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National Manufacturing Day: Celebrating Energy Efficiency with Energy Star in the Manufacturing Sector

Today, both manufacturing output and employment are growing, and companies are going even further by committing to improving their energy efficiency. Since the end of the recession, the manufacturing sector has created more than 700,000 jobs, and the industry supports more than 16 million U.S. jobs in manufacturing and its supply chains. The importance of this sector to our economy cannot be overstated. Manufacturing has the largest multiplier effect of any part of the economy, and for every $1.00 spent in manufacturing, the sector generates $1.32 for the U.S. economy.

That’s why I’m taking this opportunity today, on National Manufacturing Day, to recognize three industrial facilities recently awarded with our Energy Star Combined Heat and Power (CHP) Award for their highly efficient CHP systems, which decrease energy costs and reduce carbon pollution that leads to climate change. CHP, also known as cogeneration, simultaneously produces electricity and steam or hot water from a single heat source, using traditional or renewable fuels. It provides reliable and cost-effective electricity and heat for a variety of manufacturing processes, including the production of chemicals and pharmaceuticals, where energy costs can be a significant portion of operating costs. More

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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Energy Efficiency, Climate Hope & Our Kids

By: Guest Blogger, Harriet Shugarman

We all wear so many “hats” and labels in our lives. I have been called: economist, ski instructor, policy analyst, orchard worker, educator, blogger, reporter, daughter, sister, wife and mother. The last one, however – mother – is the one that I feel best identifies me; it is all encompassing, and surpasses everything else. For the last 8 years, after training with the Climate Reality Project, I have been working full time on climate change education and advocacy, something that is uniquely and forever tied to being a mother as it directly impacts my hopes, fears, dreams and wants for my children.

My Mantra: Tell the Truth, Actions Speak Louder than Words, and Don’t be Afraid. None of these things are easy when it comes to climate change, but all are equally important and are important life lessons to teach our children.

  1. Tell the truth: The science is clear – climate change is real, here and now, and we humans are THE major drivers of our climate crisis. We mustn’t get bogged down in debating the facts, but instead we must get busy working on solutions and creating climate hope.
  2. Actions speak louder than words: EPA’s ENERGY STAR offers a great starting place to turn our hopes into actions—and it can do the same for the kids in our lives. If we start in our own homes to be more efficient, and thoughtful with our energy use, we can make big strides quickly that can be replicated in our friend’s homes, our children’s schools, our houses of worship and our businesses. “If you tell two friends, and so on and so on!” The great thing about ENERGY STAR is that it makes saving energy simple—and oftentimes low cost and easy to do.
  3. Don’t be Afraid: Climate change seems so big and hard to get our arms around. But we need to take it in bite size pieces. A great first step is to check out EPA’s My ENERGY STAR. It is a hub of energy saving tips, expert advice and tools that will help you make a difference in fighting climate change with your everyday activities. You can even create your own dashboard to help you keep track of your energy saving accomplishments and future to dos. As a busy woman with more “hats” than I can count, it’s great to have a little help in doing something that is so pivotal to the protection of our environment. Check it out and let me know what you think.

harrietHS11

About the Author: Harriet Shugarman is the Founder and Executive Director of ClimateMama, and mother to Elliot and Alana who are her inspiration. To learn more about her work in fighting back against climate change, check out her website.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Celebrate National Ceiling Fan Day, and Save Money, Energy, and Protect the Climate! (NCFD)

Ceiling Fan

By: Alexander Ostrovsky, Esq

Happy Ceiling Fan Day! Never heard of it? Well, last year the ceiling fan company I work for partnered withceiling fan manufacturers from across the country, the American Lighting Association (ALA), ENERGY STAR, and several leading energy conservation groups to celebrate the first ever National Ceiling Fan Day. The purpose was to educate people about the energy and money saving qualities of fans—and it was a great success. This year we are celebrating again, to show people across the nation how using fans properly could save millions of kilowatts of energy. Are you ready to join in? Below are a few ‘fan facts’ to consider while celebrating NCFD:

  • Swap your existing fans with newer more efficient models: With the advent of Direct Current (DC) motors (which use up to 70% less electricity) and LED light kits, ceiling fans have become much more efficient than in years past. It may be time to retire your brass artifact for a newer more efficient model. Look at ENERGY STAR’s website for more information.
  • Fans are inexpensive to operate: If used properly, fans can cost as little as $12.00 – $20.00 a year to operate. The average home air-conditioning system costs up to $1,200 per year to operate. Help protect the climate while protecting your pocket book.
  • Use fans only when someone is in a room: Remember when your parents told you to turn off the lights when you leave a room? Get in the habit of turning off ceiling fans when you leave a room. Fans have no effect on the actual temperature in the room; they only have a cooling effect on your skin.
  • Use your fans in conjunction with your air conditioner: When you’ve come in from a hot day outdoors, it’s tempting to turn down your air conditioning (A/C) several degrees to cool off. Instead, try turning on your fan and in a few minutes, your body temperature will cool down. When you cool down, then change your A/C setting and still feel comfortable.
  • Fans can be used year round: Did you know that you can lower your heating bill if you use your fan in the winter? If you simply have fans on as they are in the summer, you won’t be doing yourself any favors. Check your ceiling fans for a reverse switch to run your fan clockwise, saving you money in the winter.

About the Author: Alexander Ostrovsky, Esq. works in Business Development at Fanimation, a ceiling fan manufacturer. He works on issues related to sales, marketing, and legal affairs. Alexander is passionate about advocating for the ceiling fan industry and the energy efficiency of fans.

 

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Dishing Up Energy Savings

 

Una Song

Una Song

By: Una Song

Before I became ENERGY STAR’s commercial food service program manager, I simply looked at a restaurant’s menu and its online reviews to make my decision on where to dine. I hadn’t a clue on how much energy a typical commercial kitchen consumes— roughly 5 to 7 times more energy per square foot than other commercial buildings! But now, not only have I joined the growing number of consumers who are taking an interest in a restaurant’s sustainability efforts, but I get to work with restaurants that are interested in saving energy, saving money, and fighting climate change.

To help restaurants curb their intensive energy use, ENERGY STAR offers a range of certified commercial kitchen appliances, including dishwashers, fryers, refrigerators and freezers, steamers, hot food holding cabinets, ice makers and ovens. Convection ovens that have earned the ENERGY STAR are approximately 20 percent more energy efficient than standard models, while certified combination ovens (combis) are about 30 percent more energy efficient. ENERGY STAR certified commercial ovens deliver these energy savings by deploying innovative components like direct-fired gas burners, infrared burners, improved insulation and improved gaskets.

By incorporating these energy-saving technologies in certified ovens, manufacturers ensure that their ovens not only use less energy, but that they also provide additional benefits such as higher production capacity, improved air circulation, and faster and more uniform cooking processes.

And, by saving energy, kitchen managers can also help reduce their restaurant’s impact on the environment and improve their profitability. In fact, by choosing an ENERGY STAR certified oven, operators may save between $1,100 and $1,600 per year. Saving energy and money never tasted so delicious!

About the Author: Una Song works for EPA’s ENERGY STAR program and focuses on consumer electronics marketing. When she’s not surfing the internet, she’s playing with her two cats.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Improving Ducts: Duct Sealing and Insulation

Ducts #1

Ducts before improvement (arrows show common leaks)

Ducts after improvement (arrows show proper air flow)

Ducts after improvement (arrows show proper air flow)

In the second installment of our seal and insulate series, ENERGY STAR Product Manager Doug Anderson gave advice on how to choose a contractor in order to seal air leaks and add insulation to your attic during the warm summer months. Today’s post goes one step further—giving expert advice on sealing ducts and adding duct insulation. Leaky ducts can reduce heating and cooling system efficiency by as much as 20 percent. Sealing and insulating ducts increases efficiency, lowers your energy bills, and can often pay for itself in energy savings.

By: Doug Anderson

In previous blog posts, we’ve talked about the benefits of air sealing and insulating your attic. In this post, we’ll address some topics that you may be less familiar with: sealing ducts and adding duct insulation.

In homes with forced-air central cooling, a system of ducts is used to deliver the cooled air to the rooms and other living spaces of the home. Unfortunately, in typical homes, the duct system can lose about 20-30% of the air that moves through due to leaks, holes, and poorly sealed connections. Addressing these issues by hiring a heating and cooling contractor or other residential energy efficiency professional can increase summer comfort, as well as save energy and money.

There are two types of ducts in most homes: supply ducts that deliver the cool air through registers or vents in each room, and return ducts that bring air back to your air conditioner. If your supply ducts are leaky, cool air from your air conditioner is wasted on its way into the living space; and leaky return ducts can result in dusty, humid, or moldy air being pulled into the system, which can aggravate allergies and other health issues.

Identify Problem Areas

The ducts that run through spaces like attics, crawlspaces, basements, and garages typically waste the most energy. You or your contractor can identify areas for improvement in your home by inspecting ducts in these areas for the following types of problems:

– Duct tape that is dried-out, loose, or has fallen away from duct joints

– Ducts that have been torn or crumpled

– Poorly hung ducts with bends and kinks that restrict air flow

– Ducts that are partially (or completely) disconnected

Next Steps

Mastic sealant is an effective way to stop leaks at duct joints

Mastic sealant is an effective way to stop leaks at duct joints

Metal tape can also be used to seal duct leaks

Metal tape can also be used to seal duct leaks

If you find these types of duct problems in your home, EPA recommends calling a professional to help you address them. A contractor will also be able to test air flow after the job is completed to make sure that your system is performing correctly.

In many areas, you can also find pre-screened, trained, and certified contractors through a locally-sponsored Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program. These programs are a great place to start looking for contractors to help you with your project. To find out if a program exists in your area, visit our website.

For some homeowners, sealing and insulating ducts can be a do-it-yourself project. If you choose to make these improvements on your own, be sure to have your heating and cooling contractor assess the system’s air flow when you are done to make sure any air sealing has not caused any air flow problems – and perform a combustion safety test to confirm there is no backdrafting of gas or oil burning appliances. To learn more about improving your home’s ducts, check out www.energystar.gov/ducts.

About the Author: Doug Anderson is an ENERGY STAR Project Manager and has been with EPA for 14 years. He works on issues related to the home envelope, including insulation products and energy-efficient residential windows.

 

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Join Me in Congratulating Our 2014 Indoor airPLUS Leader Award Winners!

In a recent blog post, I wrote about new guidance EPA published to help building professionals address moisture control, which is key to controlling many indoor contaminants. Beyond providing this type of guidance, we seek to improve indoor air quality (IAQ) by encouraging builders and home energy raters to participate in EPA’s Indoor airPLUS Program. Indoor airPLUS offers construction specifications and a simple, straightforward checklist to achieve an EPA label for improved IAQ in new homes.

It has been our experience that consumers are as concerned with the health, safety, and comfort of their homes as they are with reducing utility bills and maintenance costs. EPA created Indoor airPLUS in 2009 to help builders meet this growing consumer preference for homes with improved indoor air quality. Building on the successes of the ENERGY STAR Certified Homes Program, Indoor airPLUS adds a few simple steps during construction, which can help protect homeowners from mold, pests, combustion by-products, and other airborne pollutants, while they are in the house. And, keeping our buildings healthy has never been more important as we make them more energy efficient to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. More

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations.

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Getting the Seal and Insulate Job Done – Hiring a Contractor

In our last seal and insulate blog post, ENERGY STAR Product Manager Doug Anderson gave advice on how to identify problems that may be keeping your home from achieving energy efficient comfort during the hot days of summer. Now that those issues have been identified, today’s post shows you how to select a contractor to fix any problems.

Adding ‘blown’ attic insulation – it’s a hot, messy job in the summer

Adding ‘blown’ attic insulation – it’s a hot, messy job in the summer

By: Doug Anderson

Unless you enjoy working in hot, cramped attics, it’s best to just pour yourself a cool drink and call a contractor to properly seal air leaks and add insulation to your attic during the summer. Insulation contractors have all the equipment and experience to do the job right and do it much quicker than you can. Let them do the hard work. Your job is to find a good contractor.

Shop Around – Selecting a Contractor

As with any home improvement project, you want to make sure you’re getting a good price and that the work will be done right:

– Check with your electric utility or state energy office to see if they offer incentives for improvements or have pre-screened program contractors. (See www.dsireusa.org or www.energystar.gov/dime for lists of incentives)

– Get several estimates from contractors (know the square footage of your attic).

– Make sure the contractor is licensed and insured in your state.

– Ask if the crew chief is certified to do insulation work.

– Ask how the contractor will keep your house clean during the work.

– Make sure the contractor understands you want attic holes and gaps sealed before any insulation is added. If they do not agree to “seal before insulating,” call another contractor.

Make Sure the Job’s Done Right – What to Look For

When hiring a contractor, make sure that you clearly understand the work they’ll be doing. Don’t hesitate to ask questions before the contractor starts, and stay involved throughout the process. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

– Contractors should seal air leaks in the attic floor before adding insulation. It’s much easier to seal first to ensure you get the full performance out of your insulation.

– If you have air ducts in the attic, make sure contractors do not step on or damage them.

– Burying any ducts on the floor in insulation is OK to do – it can even improve efficiency. Just make sure the ducts are well sealed first.

– Unless your old insulation is wet, moldy, smelly, or contains animal waste, contractors can just add new insulation on top. It is usually not necessary to remove existing insulation.

– Most contractors use blown-in, loose fill insulation for attic floors, which is quick and easy to install with the right equipment. Typical materials include fiberglass or cellulose – both contain some recycled content (glass or ground up paper) and are inexpensive and safe. If traditional insulation rolls are used for the attic floor instead, be sure that it is “unfaced” (no foil or paper backing needed) so moisture does not get trapped.

– Any project estimate should also include installing insulation baffles (rafter vents). This ensures that as you add insulation, soffit vents (which allow outside air to enter the attic) are not blocked and your attic has proper air flow.

Seal and Insulate- Installing a Baffle

Installing a Baffle (or Rafter Vent)

– If you have older recessed light fixtures (can lights) that stick up into the attic floor, the contractor should cover and seal them before installing insulation using specially designed covers that are available at most home improvement stores.

– Contractors should also seal the chase (hole) in the attic around the plumbing vent pipe.

– It’s also important to weather strip and insulate the attic hatch or door. There are several off-the-shelf products available for standard-sized openings.

– EPA recommends having a professional contractor conduct combustion safety testing before and after any air sealing, as this may affect the drafting of any combustion (oil or gas) appliances in the house.

Finally, tell the contractor that you expect documentation at the end of the job to show how much insulation has been added and what the new insulation R-value is for your attic. When it’s done, take a picture and compare it to the pictures you took earlier to see the improvement. Then, you can sit back and enjoy the rest of your summer knowing your home is more comfortable and efficient.

If you would like more information, including details on doing this work yourself, ENERGY STAR has expertise you need. Check out our website for details.

About the Author:Doug Anderson is an ENERGY STAR Project Manager and has been with EPA for 14 years. He works on issues related to the home envelope, including insulation products and energy efficient residential windows.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Summer Savings with Seal and Insulate – Don’t Sweat it!

Insulation

By: Doug Anderson

Happy summer! While the season brings trips to the beach, vacation, and barbeques, summer also brings the heat and humidity. Now is the perfect time to make sure your house is well-prepared for the summer weather, so you can leave the sweating where it belongs– outdoors.

To start, get your air conditioning (AC) unit or heat pump system checked and tuned to make sure it’s running efficiently – it needs regular maintenance just like your car. If your AC is working well but your house still has warm walls, hot ceilings, or uncomfortable humidity, your home may have air leaks and low levels of insulation. Sealing air leaks and adding more insulation can improve home comfort by keeping the cool air in and preventing pollen, dust and pests from entering.

Getting Started – Identify Problem Areas

In most homes, air leaks and low levels of attic insulation are one of the biggest sources of energy waste and summer time discomfort. While it’s important to check your home’s attic insulation levels, be aware that any attic in the summer is usually extremely hot and uncomfortable.

Tips on Checking Insulation levels:

– The best time to do a quick check your attic during the summer is in the morning when it’s cooler. If you start to feel overheated at any point, get out of the attic right away.

– Take a yardstick or tape measure, pen and paper, a flashlight, and a digital camera or cell phone with you to measure your insulation and take pictures.

Ruler- Insulation

– Measure the depth of the insulation in a few spots with your tape measure or yardstick and jot the levels down. You should have about 13 inches of typical insulation (fiberglass or cellulose) if you live in the southern United States and about 17 inches if you live in the central or northern United States. If you don’t have those levels, you are paying for it with higher energy bills.

– A good rule of thumb is that if the insulation level is just up to the top of the attic floor joists, you have only about half the insulation you should (see illustration).

– While you are looking around, take pictures of the insulation level, different corners of your attic, and of any ducts or air conditioning units you see. The pictures are a good record for future reference and to show to a contractor.

Next Step – Call a Contractor

If you found you have low levels of attic insulation – what’s next? EPA recommends calling a contractor or planning a Do-it-yourself project for the fall when it’s not so hot. Unless you have some experience doing this type of work, a contractor is your best bet. They are trained, have all the right tools, and will work quickly to get the job done. In our next post, we’ll talk about how to select and work with a contractor.

About the Author: Doug Anderson is an ENERGY STAR Project Manager and has been with EPA for 14 years. He works on issues related to the home envelope, including insulation products and energy efficient residential windows.

 

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Splash into Savings with ENERGY STAR Certified Pool Pumps

Pool

By Steve Ryan

Did you know there are more than 5 million in-ground pools installed across America, and over 50,000 new in-ground pools built annually? If you are (or are soon-to-be) a pool owner, keeping the water clean is probably a key consideration. That’s where the pool pump comes in– it re-circulates water through a filter to maintain water clarity and hygiene. All swimming pools have at least one recirculation pump, but many have multiple pumps.

Why should you care about your pool pump?

If you have a pool, the pool pump uses the most electricity of any single product in your home. They typically cost $450 a year to operate – much more than they need to. Conventional single-speed pool pumps are set to run at the higher speeds required of the pool cleaner and waste energy during filtration operation, which really only needs half the flow rate.

How can ENERGY STAR help?

An in-ground pool pump that has earned the ENERGY STAR label can run at different speeds and be programmed to match your pool’s needs with appropriate speed. The energy saved is considerable: reducing pump speed by one-half allows the pump to use just one-eighth as much energy. ENERGY STAR pool pumps are independently certified to deliver those energy savings while providing the performance you expect. In some cases the performance may exceed expectations—for instance, variable speed pumps that earn the label are much quieter.

Pool Pump

Pool Pump

How much money does an ENERGY STAR certified pool pump save annually?

There are two types of pool pumps that can earn the ENERGY STAR label: multi-speed and variable speed. Multi-speed pumps operate at two speeds and allow the pool owner to reduce the speed of the motor during the majority of its operation. Variable-speed pumps are the most efficient because they can be programmed to operate at many different speeds, even below half speed, depending on the pool usage. Both offer considerable energy savings over the more commonly used single-speed pump.

An ENERGY STAR certified “variable speed” pool pump will use 2,800 kWh less electricity per year, on average, equivalent to:

  • $340 in savings
  • 2.2 tons of reduced greenhouse gas emissions

An ENERGY STAR certified “multi-speed” pool pump will use 2,300 kWh less electricity per year, on average, equivalent to:

  • $280 in savings
  • 1.8 tons of reduced greenhouse gas emissions

This is money you can PUMP back into the family budget.

The energy savings are great … but is it worth it?

Even considering the extra money you might pay to buy them, ENERGY STAR certified pool pumps pay for themselves in about a year-and-a-half (less for multi-speed pumps). And that’s not all. Many utilities offer rebates for ENERGY STAR certified pool pumps. For example, Long Island Power Authority offers a $400 rebate. Check with your local utility.

By the way, you’re not just saving money, you’re helping the environment

If all pool pumps sold in the United States were ENERGY STAR certified, the energy cost savings would grow to about $110 million each year, and 1.5 billion pounds of annual greenhouse gas emissions would be prevented — equivalent to the emission from nearly 140,000 vehicles.

So…

Contact your local pool maintenance technician or distributor about ENERGY STAR certified pool pumps. For more information, check out our website.

About the Author: Steven Ryan joined the sales and marketing team at the Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR Labeling Branch in June 1999 and is currently the Program Manager for ENERGY STAR labeled pool pumps, office equipment, roofing, water heaters, and HVAC products. Mr. Ryan holds a Master’s degree in Environmental Science and Resource Policy from George Washington University and a BA in History from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

 

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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