U.S. Environmental Protection Agency	2007-P-00028
Office of Inspector General	August 1,2007
At a Glance
Catalyst for Improving the Environment
Why We Did This Review
We initiated this review to
evaluate how effectively the
U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) is managing
Product Labeling Program.
We specifically sought to
determine whether EPA
ensures that consumer product
specifications are sufficient,
the extent EPA verifies that
products adhere to
specifications, and whether
EPA adequately ensures that
the ENERGY STAR label is
properly used.
Labeling Program identifies
and promotes energy-efficient
products. EPA reported in
2006 that using ENERGY
STAR products prevented
estimated greenhouse gas
emissions equivalent to those
from 23 million vehicles, and
saving Americans an
estimated $12 billion in their
utility bills.
For further information,
contact our Office of
Congressional and Public
Liaison at (202) 566-2391.
To view the full report,
click on the following link:
20070801 -2007-P-00028.pdf
ENERGY STAR Program Can Strengthen
Controls Protecting the Integrity of the Label
What We Found
To ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of the ENERGY STAR program and
the integrity of its label, EPA established several processes. These processes
include product specification setting and revision, product self-certification,
product verification testing, and label utilization monitoring. We reviewed these
processes and found improvements could be made that could better assure the
integrity of the ENERGY STAR label for the consumer of home and office
The criteria for revising specifications were unclear and not documented. It was
not evident when or what factors would trigger a specification revision.
Furthermore, EPA does not have reasonable assurance that the self-certification
process is effective. EPA relies on some alternative verification mechanisms, but
lacks any quality assurance or review of these reported results. The Agency's
verification testing also lacks a clear documented methodology governing
products selected for verification tests and does not test for statistically valid
results. Consequently, product efficiency and energy savings reported by
manufacturers are, for the most part, unverified by EPA review.
We found little oversight in using the ENERGY STAR label in retail stores, which
is commonly the purchase point for the consumer. EPA could not provide
documentation related to followup actions taken, final results for all retail store
assessments, or the resolution status of label inconsistencies. We also found that
manufacturers may label and sell products as ENERGY STAR qualified prior to
submitting test results to the Agency. Using the label on products that do not meet
ENERGY STAR requirements may weaken the value of the label and negatively
impact the ENERGY STAR program.
What We Recommend
EPA should strengthen management controls to protect the integrity of the
ENERGY STAR label. EPA should clarify and document the criteria for product
specification revisions. EPA should establish a quality assurance program for its
verification program. Also, EPA should improve its oversight in using the
ENERGY STAR label by establishing a systematic methodology and procedures
for monitoring, resolving, and following up on label misuse. EPA disagreed with
many of our conclusions, but stated it had implemented many of the
recommendations. However, EPA's planned actions do not address the intent of
our recommendations, and we consider the issues unresolved.