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Skepticism about Energy Star savings

The promise of saving a few bucks and saving the environment comes along with the Energy Star program. With initiatives like the $300 million rebate program offered by the United States Department of Energy, the intent is to further encourage home owners to make the switch to energy-efficient home appliances.

The environmental benefits of energy saving appliances are clear, but many home owners still aren’t convinced when what it really comes down to for most is the financial savings. Unfortunately, since home appliances make up only a small percentage of a home’s total utility bills; the cost savings aren’t always quite so profound.

This is especially true when home owners are upgrading from machines 10 years or newer, to refrigerators, washers, dryers, dishwashers and stoves that are Energy Star rated. With barely measurable cost savings, and high costs for purchasing the appliances even with the government incentive for a $100 rebate on every eligible appliance, it’s still not enough to convince many Americans.

Real cost savings can come into play with those changing from appliances that are 20 years or older to newer, more efficient appliances whether Energy Star or otherwise. These can reduce energy consumption by up to 70 percent. But experts say that greater savings can come from investing money into better insulating the home since heating and cooling systems expend more energy.

The vast majority of the population is starting to care about their environmental impact — but no matter which way you swing it, what it still comes down to is a numbers game; Uncle Sam’s green, not the environmental kind.

It doesn’t help either that the Energy Star ratings program has been closely scrutinized for inappropriate use of rating stickers.