Happy Birthday, ENERGY STAR!

It’s been 20 years since the United States Environmental Protection Agency created its ENERGY STAR program in 1992 to identify and encourage the use of the products that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Over those two decades, they’ve partnered with the U.S. Department of Energy and expanded their oversight to test more and more energy-consuming products, including home heating and cooling equipment. Products that pass their tests are then adorned with the official ENERGY STAR label to tell buyers the best choices for money and energy savings and for protecting their environment.

ENERGY STAR has seemingly been embraced by the public: the latest news on their website reveals that public awareness of the ENERGY STAR label was more than 80 percent of persons polled in 2011, and 44 percent of American households were home to at least one ENERGY STAR-compliant product.

The majority of the people polled admitted they were likely to recommend ENERGY STAR-qualified equipment to their friends as well, proving the influence of the program will continue to grow in the future thanks to word of mouth.

ENERGY STAR even offered some simple holiday gift ideas at the end of 2011 via their website — recommending shoppers look for items with the ENERGY STAR label to give a gift that keeps on giving by reducing emissions and energy bills to save both the environment and the family funds. And there’s no reason to stop the ENERGY STAR gift giving simply because the New Year has come … there’s always another holiday or a birthday of a special someone on the horizon.

You can locate a guide to any and every ENERGY STAR-compliant HVAC product — and much more — on their website. But ENERGY STAR isn’t just for home and appliance owners.  The ENERGY STAR KIDS area on their site offers a colorful and interactive section for pint-sized energy-conscious youngsters. Kids can become “energy stars” themselves thanks to the invaluable info, like the “Fun Facts” that Americans use a million dollars worth of energy every minute and that a typical household spends some $1,900 a year on energy bills. Hopefully that won’t be too scary for kids pulling down a few bucks a week for an allowance.

To keep up with all of the latest ENERGY STAR news, log on to: www.energystar.gov.