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Utility bill tip: Look for Energy Star label

Whether shopping for a new refrigerator, furnace, air conditioner, water heater, computer, TV, lighting products, clothes washer, windows, doors, and more, look for the Energy Star label, advises the Minnesota Department of Commerce.

That may sound like a commercial, but it's some of the best advice to help consumers and the nation save energy.

Energy Star is the trusted, government-backed symbol for energy efficiency that helps us all save money and protect the environment through energy efficient products and practices. Energy Star, a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy, was established to:

--Reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants caused by the inefficient use of energy.

--Make it easy for consumers to identify and purchase energy efficient products that offer savings on energy bills without sacrificing performance, features, and comfort.

The appliances, lighting products and electronics that earn the ENERGY STAR label do so by meeting energy efficiency requirements such as:

--Products must contribute significant energy savings nationwide.

--If the product costs more than a conventional, less-efficient counterpart, purchasers will recover their investment in increased energy efficiency through reduced utility bills, within a reasonable period of time.

--Energy efficiency can be achieved through technologies offered by more than one manufacturer.

--Product energy consumption and performance can be measured and verified with testing.

--Labeling will effectively differentiate products and is visible for purchasers.

To find qualifying products or to compare performance of several products that are ENERGY STAR labeled, go to Also, check out the Division of Energy Resources' "Appliances, Lighting, Electronics" consumer guide.