Why GAO Did This Study
The federal government has established three key programs to encourage energy efficiency in household appliances and consumer electronics sold in the United States: (1) federal minimum efficiency standards, led by DOE; (2) EnergyGuide, which requires product labeling and is led by the FTC; and (3) Energy Star, a voluntary labeling program led by EPA.
Pub. L. No. 111-139 requires GAO to annually identify programs, agencies, offices, and initiatives with duplicative goals and activities. In response to this mandate, the objectives for this report are to: (1) examine these three programs' approaches to improving the energy efficiency of household appliances and consumer electronics and the scope of products they cover, and (2) determine to what extent, if any, federal programs to foster energy efficiency for these products are fragmented, overlapping, or duplicative. GAO reviewed relevant legislation and program documents and spoke with staff at the agencies about each of the programs, and to stakeholders, including manufacturers.
What GAO Recommends
To limit the potential for duplication in the current Energy Star verification testing activities, GAO recommends that EPA take steps to better communicate to DOE the models selected for testing so DOE can avoid testing the same ones. DOE and EPA acknowledged the importance of coordination, but EPA disagreed with the draft recommendation, citing concerns it could be labor intensive to implement. GAO revised the recommendation to clarify EPA’s flexibility in implementing it.