It’s Past Time to Double ENERGY STAR’s Annual Budget

It’s Past Time to Double ENERGY STAR’s Annual Budget

Let's Save Energy

Alliance to Save Energy's Blog

08/25/21 / Olivia Leos

It’s Past Time to Double ENERGY STAR’s Annual Budget

ENERGY STAR funding.

The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report made it unequivocally clear – there is a definite link between carbon emissions and a warmer climate. Moreover, scientists are confident that global emissions must be cut in half by 2030 to prevent global temperatures from rising above the tipping point. Which is why it is now more crucial than ever to turn to energy efficiency to cut carbon emissions.

A recent International Energy Agency report found that we must triple the rate of global energy efficiency deployment to stay on track for our climate goals. And the ENERGY STAR program –  a federal private-public partnership program which employs nearly 730,000 Americans manufacturing, designing, and installing products – is one of the most proven ways we can accomplish this in the U.S. With an annual budget of just $39 million, ENERGY STAR accounts for 330 million metric tons of avoided carbon emissions annually – roughly 5% of what the U.S. emits each year. Remarkably, carbon reduction is achieved while still managing to save American consumers and businesses $35 billion a year in energy cost savings.

With buildings accounting for 40% of U.S. energy consumption, meeting our carbon reduction goals requires building upon ENERGY STAR’s success. Unfortunately, ENERGY STAR today is operating on what can only be characterized as a shoestring budget, with a reduction from $54 million to $39.4 million over the past 10 years. Accounting for inflation, the budget necessary to sustain the program at 2010 funding levels would require $65 million today. With ENERGY STAR’s current budget, we are failing to reach the untapped potential of a powerful tool in the emission reduction toolbox.

ENERGY STAR goes beyond climate change. As we look to build back from the economic consequences of the pandemic, ENERGY STAR is an invaluable tool for job development in the clean energy economy. In 2020 alone, the program employed 26% of the 2 million-strong energy efficiency workforce. This includes jobs in manufacturing ENERGY STAR appliances and other ENERGY STAR labeled products, as well as employment in building design and contracting services that provide insulation, improve lighting, and reduce overall energy consumption across homes and businesses.

More ENERGY STAR impacts:

  • ENERGY STAR delivers a return on investment of more than $900 for every $1 in public funding.
  • 4 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas reductions since the start of the program.
  • 390 million metric tons of greenhouse gas reductions in 2019 alone.
  • $39 billion in energy costs saved in 2019.
  • $350 in energy cost savings for every $1 invested over the program lifetime.
  • Accounted for 26% of the energy efficiency workforce in 2020.

Now more than ever, it’s clear that ENERGY STAR is a powerful tool in our decarbonization toolbox. That’s why the Alliance is urging Congress to double the ENERGY STAR budget to $80 million. This budget increase would enable ENERGY STAR to better benchmark commercial building energy use, bolster ENERGY STAR residential energy efficiency programs, increase the number of product categories covered, and streamline methods for tracking energy-saving performance data within the federal government. These are critical steps toward decarbonizing our built environment quickly and cost-effectively, and as Congress negotiates on a generational investment in the nation’s infrastructure, they are steps that cannot be missed.

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