Understanding EnergyGuide Labels for Appliances

Federal law requires that EnergyGuide labels be placed on all new refrigerators, freezers, water heaters, dishwashers, washing machines, room air conditioners, central air conditioners, heat pumps, furnaces and boilers. EnergyGuide labels are bright yellow with black letters. The format of the labels has changed slightly since December 28, 1994. The following information explains the changes and how to better understand the EnergyGuide labels.

The most significant change in the label format is that for several major appliances, the large dollar figure representing the estimated annual energy cost is no longer featured prominently in the middle of the label. Instead, the new labels for these appliances feature the estimated annual energy consumption in kilowatt-hours per year (electric), or therms per year (gas). The estimated yearly cost is provided toward the bottom of the label.

Each EnergyGuide label will provide the following information:

  1. The manufacturer, model number, type of appliance, and capacity are listed at the top of the label.
  2. The line scale in the middle of the label shows how that particular model compares in energy efficiency with other models on the market of comparable size and type. You will see a range from lowest to highest. The label will not tell you who makes the more efficient models or if they are available locally.
    * A word of caution--the ranges shown on the labels are not updated frequently, and manufacturers are constantly introducing more efficient appliances. It is possible to find a model that is more efficient than the most efficient end of the range; a label on such a product will include a statement explaining that the consumption of or efficiency of that particular model was not available at the time the range was published.

The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) publishes several books on energy efficient appliances. The Consumer Guide to Home Energy Savings lists many of the most energy efficient products one can buy. For more information see The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE).

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's ENERGY STAR Appliances web site at contains valuable and detailed information concerning ENERGY STAR ratings for major household appliances--clothes washers, refrigerators, dishwashers, and room air conditioners, as well as other appliances. The ENERGY STAR rating is given to appliances which are "significantly more energy efficient than the minimum government standards."​

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