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'Most Efficient' Energy Star rating introduced

Electrolux, Kenmore, and LG, are among the first recipients for the new rating, which will be given to the top 5 percent of products in a handful of product categories.

In addition to products with the basic Energy Star rating, consumers can now choose to buy even more efficient products with the help of a new rating.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy introduced last week an additional rating it calls Energy Star Most Efficient.

Energy Star Most Efficient rating label

Consumer electronics and appliances with the Energy Star Most Efficient seal will signify those products that have exceptional efficiency within their product category. The seal will only be awarded to the top 5 percent of models. It will initially be introduced in five categories: clothes washers, heating and cooling equipment, televisions, and refrigerator-freezers.

"Products that receive the Most Efficient designation demonstrate exceptional and cutting-edge efficiency performance that environmentally minded consumers and early adopters value," according to the DOE.

Creation of the new seal represents yet another approach to getting companies to invest in making even more efficient products without government mandates.

The first batch of products to have made the cut include those from: Best Buy's Insignia brand, Electrolux, LG, Nordyne, Panasonic, Rheem, Samsung, and Sears' Kenmore.

The DOE recently pointed to data concerning refrigerators as one example of how introduction of the Energy Star ratings system, partnerships with utilities, and consumer organizations have worked in creating a market desire for efficiency that has driven competition among companies to make more efficient products.

Energy Technologies Building Program at DOE

Today's average U.S. refrigerator currently uses about 25 percent of the amount of energy that was used to power the average refrigerator in 1975, according to the department's site. That improvement in efficiency came despite the fact that these appliances have gotten bigger (the average U.S. refrigerator is now 20 percent larger) and have added more functionality, including features like through-the-door ice makers and touch screens.