The United States Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star program and the Department of Energy have named the Energy Star 2004 Partners of the Year for Excellence in Efficient Products. Lennox Industries, Sea Gull Lighting, Whirlpool Corp., Good Earth Lighting, and Gorell Windows and Doors were the five building products manufacturers named, along with after-market manufacturers GE Consumer Products and Sylvania.

All were chosen to receive a Partner of the Year Award for their contributions toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions by manufacturing and promoting energy efficient products. "The bottom line is that they were chosen because of the outstanding work they've done in promoting energy efficient products in the consumer marketplace," says Maria Vargas, Energy Star communications director. "We took into account what percentage of their product lines have received the Energy Star and their efforts in promoting Energy Star to consumers."

In 2003, Whirlpool introduced 126 new Energy Star-qualified appliance models under the Whirlpool, KitchenAid, and Kenmore brands. In 2003, 82% of the windows sold by Gorell were Energy Star-qualified models. Ninety percent of the new furnaces, heat pumps, and air conditioners introduced by Lennox Industries in 2003 meet Energy Star requirements. Sea Gull Lighting has launched a full line of Energy Star-qualified lighting fixtures, from wall sconces to ceiling fans. Ninety-five percent of Good Earth Lighting's line of lighting fixtures are Energy Star qualified, and the manufacturer has set a 2004 goal of 10 new qualified products.

In remodeling especially, manufacturers say, homeowners look for products that are energy efficient and will help them save money on their utility bills. However, the Energy Star program's data show that market penetration in many categories is still low. For example, in 2000 (the most recent data available) only 10% of clothes washers purchased were Energy Star qualified, followed by 17% of refrigerators and 20% of dishwashers. Only between 3% and 5% of the lighting fixtures and light bulbs purchased qualified for the Energy Star.

Although consumers have already made the connection between energy efficiency and their energy bills, Vargas says, "there's been a lag in understanding the impact on the environment, but that's increasing. We're seeing that consumers are increasingly paying attention to energy efficiency, and they've made the connection between energy efficiency and the environment," Vargas says.

For clients trying to reduce their home's energy and water consumption, installing energy efficient products such as windows and doors, major appliances, decorative lighting, and heating and cooling systems can be a good solution.

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