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TopTen USA: Help in finding the most energy-efficient products

Do you dream of easily identifying the most energy-efficient consumer products for use in your facilities? Well, your dream can now become a reality! TopTen USA is a new web-based consumer resource that identifies and ranks energy-efficient products in categories that range from TVs and water heaters to computers and cars.

TopTen’s goal is to transform the American consumer’s purchasing priorities so that they include efficiency as a factor and actively select products with the highest energy efficiency that they can afford. As consumers begin to place a premium on reducing energy use, manufacturers will respond by offering increasingly efficient products with energy use as a major selling point, and consumer energy consumption for the featured categories should begin to decrease.

How TopTen works

TopTen ranks products based on annual energy use, lifetime cost, and energy savings (compared against the federal minimum standard for the product), clearly identifying the most energy-efficient products available—up to 10 in each category—to minimize the confusion many consumers experience when shopping with energy use in mind.

And TopTen simplifies the shopping experience by providing the essential information you need to comparison shop, including product specifications, links to local and online retailers, pricing, availability, and even consumer product ratings. Although energy consumption is TopTen’s key criterion, it also takes into consideration some environmental, health, and safety concerns, depending on the type of product. For example, TopTen will factor into its ranking the type of refrigerant used in air conditioners or the water factor (the metric for efficient water use) of clothes washers.

Keeping up with the market

A major asset of TopTen’s program is its ability to update product categories at the pace of market change. This is especially important in fast-changing categories—such as laptops and TVs—which are updated every two to three months; less-volatile categories are updated every four to six months.

Also, although Energy Star’s qualified product lists are updated monthly, Energy Star doesn’t retire older products from its lists. By contrast, because TopTen only shows the most efficient products in each category and updates its rankings more regularly than Energy Star can, when consumers use it to identify a product that they would like to purchase, that product is likely still available for sale.

The difference between TopTen and Energy Star

TopTen faces a major challenge: Differentiating itself from the Energy Star rating system. Many consumers know that the Energy Star label indicates a product that saves energy. What they often don’t know is that the difference in energy savings between the Energy Star minimum rating and the most efficient product in the same category can be significant.

Energy Star has begun to address the issue by implementing an annual Most Efficient program that provides consumers with a list of the highest-efficiency products for the year. This is an important improvement to Energy Star’s product lists, but by the latter half of the program year, many of the products it lists are likely to be superseded by others that are even more efficient, especially in the electronics categories. TopTen doesn’t see itself as competing with Energy Star’s Most Efficient program—instead, it sees itself as enhancing that program by providing consumers with up-to-date information. In fact, TopTen and Energy Star recently issued a joint statement describing how they work to achieve a common goal.

For assistance with energy efficiency improvement needs, please contact the Business Resource Center at 1-866-ALLIANT (1-866-255-4268) or your Alliant Energy Key Account Manager.

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