October 4, 2007 at 10:19 am 2 comments

Posted by: Joseph Hershey


I don’t think people really know what the ENERGY STAR logo means or why they should care.

I asked the public domain government ENERGY STAR website —

Here are some answers lifted directly off the site…

Q. What is ENERGY STAR ?

A. “ENERGY STAR is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy helping us all save money and protect the environment through energy efficient products and practices.” more…

Q. What Makes a Product ENERGY STAR?

A. “ENERGY STAR products are the same or better than standard products, only they use less energy. To earn the ENERGY STAR, they must meet strict energy efficiency criteria set by the US Environmental Protection Agency or the US Department of Energy. Since they use less energy, these products save you money on your electricity bill and help protect the environment by causing fewer harmful emissions from power plants. And you get the features and quality you expect.” more…

Q. What products are ENERGY STAR certified?

A. “Products in more than 50 categories are eligible for the ENERGY STAR. They use less energy, save money, and help protect the environment. Ask for the ENERGY STAR.” more…

ENERGY STAR certified products are generally more expensive because they are better built products with lower energy consumption.

This is the green tax. You have to pay more to get a greener product. In this case, though, if you do the math, you can figure on getting back the tax you paid up front in lower energy bills paid immediately and throughout the life time of the product in question.

My water heater is a GE “SmartWater” Heater, but not ENERGY STAR certified.

"SmartWater" Heater

It has an estimated use of 268 therms / year, just shy of the top end 273 therms / yr.

Energy Guide

That seems bad, but then I want to see what it would take to get an ENERGY STAR rated water heater.

I take a look at GE “SmartWater” heaters first, looking for mine in particular. Can I get another “SmartWater” at my local Home Depot without much ado and then check to see how long it would take, based on the sticker’s assumed average usage per year, to get my green tax paid back in money not spent to the local gas co. ?

Well, I can’t find ENERGY STAR anywhere on GE’s site for their only consumer product line of water heaters called “SmartWater”. Must be oversight, or I’m just not finding it. I can’t imagine GE Appliance wouldn’t sell an ENERGY STAR. Yeah, well maybe some of the lower cost ones would be non star rated, but when you get up in cost, it should be tagged with the star.

Okay. No luck. Let’s go to Home Depot.

The site’s down for maintenance, but I find the current weekly flyer for the local store. Great. On pg. 7 the whole “SmartWater” line up is priced out and on sale for an additional 10% off. Cool.

Hmm. Still nothing anywhere on the same page about ENERGY STAR.

Ok, Let’s do a google. oops. The Consumerist link catches my eye…

Home Depot Touts Crappy GE SmartWater Boiler As “High Efficiency”

Seems as though none of GE’s “SmartWater” water heaters are ENERGY STAR certified. The article states a sales rep from the Home Depot says that the “High Efficiency” label come from the fact that they’re the most efficient that Home Depot sells.


You were right, Ed. I retract my correction. My water heater is not energy efficient. Your comment on the podcast stands as is.

Guess I’m not looking to comparison shop for a GE “you know the reason now why SmartWater is in quotes here” water heater anymore.

Hey reader. What type of water heater do you have? Does it have the ENERGY STAR rating logo sticker on it? Tell me. I’m looking.


Entry filed under: Energy.

Southwest recycles Shop Pink and Think Green

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. William McGurk  |  October 31, 2007 at 9:30 pm

    Joseph, you got me going, so I searched… At least as far back as 2004, EPA decided not to issue Energy Star criteria for home hot water heaters:

    Okay, with that out ofd the way, the tankless coil in by nice New England oil-burning furnace has given out, so I’m also looking for a new hot water system. With my south-facing roof a solar unit with electric assist sounds great, but my family will need to wash before we can get it installed. So… Oil? Get CNG delivered? Electric? Storage or tankless?

    Go with my oil company? Their “indirect heated” storage unit is PRICEY, Oil has trippled since I moved in, and while I could later replace my furnace without sacrificing the storage tank, I’d be stuck with oil.

    Tankless with an endless supply of hot water? Be still, my heart! There’s a $300 tax credit available for certain tankless units, even electric, but the initial cost is great. Consumer reports says you may never save your Green Tax back. And I don’t have the 200 Amp service required anyway.

    CNG? My wife is afraid of getting blown up, and it’s as expensive as oil now, anyuway.

    So, electric storage unit. I’ve got a well and so am concerned with corrosion – 12 year warranty model! 50 gallons for my family size. Now, get the most efficient – but none have the Energy Star label, which I was looking for when I came accross your post. Since I need this quickly, it will come either from Lowe’s or – you guessed it – Home Depot.

    The GE SmartWater unit has an energy factor of .90 but there’s precious little other info unless I go out to read the labels. The Whirlpool (EE3J50RD045V) at Lowe’s has an EF of .95. All else being equal, that’s probably the way I’ll go.

    Good luck.

  • 2. thegreentax  |  November 1, 2007 at 9:10 pm


    I really like the .95 energy efficiency rating on the Whirlpool unit you gave. I looked at quite a few cng 50 gals on the Lowe’s website. They ranged from .59 to .62.

    Is it the difference between gas and electric? I wondering what the operating cost difference would be between them.

    Thanks for the info. I bet we’re not alone in looking for a cheap source of water heat options.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

The Green Tax Podcast

Subscribe to the podcast!
Subscribe Here



Flickr Photos

%d bloggers like this: