Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Ineffective Consumer Guides: Energy Star Labels

I've heard for several years that Wal-Mart was becoming more sustainable, but a purchase I just made makes me doubt that. I bought a Haier mini-fridge for my daughter's college dorm. When I opened the box in her dorm I found the US EPA Energyguide label taped to the refrigerator, inside the box. The label showed that the fridge was at the high end of the cost range for similar models, meaning it is the least energy efficient. It bothers me that Wal-Mart is selling the most energy inefficient model, but it bothers me even more that the information was hidden inside the box. The label should be on the outside of the box so it can inform consumers; hiding it inside the box seems like a deliberate attempt to hide from the consumer that the fridge is not energy efficient. So who is at fault? Certainly Haier shares some blame for making such an energy-inefficient product and for placing the label inside the box. However, Wal-Mart sets the rules for their vendors, and their rules should include that the products they sell must be energy efficient, and that the Energyguide labels should be clearly displayed. Finally, the US EPA shares blame: their rules should require that the label be displayed outside the box or printed on the box.

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