Sierra Summit

Conversations and observations about California's mountains

April 2, 2010
Energy Star program vulnerable to fraud

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We all want to save energy. But a new
Government Accountability Office report has uncovered serious flaws with the
government's  Energy Star program,
which was established to identify products that lower energy costs and reduce
greenhouse gas emissions. 

Its logo is widespread on appliances and electronics today. But there's a catch: the government does not  verify manufacturer claims of energy savings - and that means products that carry the Energy Star logo may not be energy savers.

To prove this, the GAO set up bogus companies and submitted applications for Energy Star certification for 15 make-believe products. Most were approved, including - unbelievably - a gasoline-powered alarm clock the size of a small generator!

Many of the fictitious devices quickly appeared on a government web-site as official Energy Star products, including a computer monitor that was approved in just 30 minutes. Soon, real companies were calling the bogus GAO firms, wanting to buy the products based on their energy savings.

Obviously, this is not good. As the GAO pointed out in its report: "Our investigation found that companies can easily submit fictitious energy-efficiency claims in order to obtain Energy Star qualification for a broad range of consumer products."

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 To read the full report, go to:

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About Sierra Summit

The Author
Tom Knudson lives in the Sierra Nevada and travels widely throughout the range. His hobbies include fly-fishing, backpacking and cross-country skiing. He is the recipient of numerous journalistic awards, including two Pulitzer Prizes, one for a 1992 Sacramento Bee series "Sierra in Peril," a watershed work about environmental threats to the mountain range. E-mail Tom at

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