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Not all EnergyStar goods measure up, report finds

The Department of Energy says it's boosting enforcement of its energy-efficiency standards because some manufacturers are not fully complying.

An internal audit by the Energy Department concluded that some EnergyStar products are not meeting the requirements to gain the energy-efficiency label.

On Monday, The New York Times reported the results of the audit, which found that the two agencies responsible for the EnergyStar program--the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency--haven't been fully enforcing compliance. The audit also said manufacturers of some products, including refrigerators and air conditioners, have been certifying products themselves.

Last week, the DOE issued a statement, detailing how it plans to firm up its oversight of energy-efficiency certification.

The DOE said it will randomly review whether manufacturers are meeting all the specifications for efficiency standards, such as the EnergyStar logo. Lack of full compliance could lead to penalties or actions, such as removing a label. The DOE also said it will issue guidelines for new product categories quickly.

The Obama administration has made energy efficiency, in appliances as well as vehicles, a high priority in its energy policy. The administration said that it has issued five efficiency standards ahead of schedule, which will save between $250 billion and $300 billion over the next 30 years as well as 2 billion tons of carbon dioxide, once in effect.

The DOE noted that this summer it investigated two alleged violations of its efficiency code by makers of air conditioners and freezers and expects to resolve the cases shortly.

The EnergyStar program has grown rapidly since it started in 1992 and has become a familiar label for consumers looking to save money on electricity use or buy more environmentally friendly products. But the rapid growth of the program has led to some growing pains, building energy policy expert Lane Burt of the Natural Resources Defense Council told the Times.