Understanding Energy Labels
The U.S. government established a mandatory compliance program in the 1970s requiring that certain types of new appliances bear a label to help consumers compare the energy efficiency among similar products. In 1980, the Federal Trade Commission’s Appliance Labeling Rule became effective, and requires that EnergyGuide labels be placed on all new refrigerators, freezers, water heaters, dishwashers, clothes washers, room air conditioners, heat pumps, furnaces, and boilers. These labels are bright yellow with black lettering identifying energy consumption characteristics of household appliances. Although these labels will not tell you which appliance is the most efficient, they will tell you the annual energy consumption and operating cost for each appliance so you can compare them yourself.
EnergyGuide labels show the estimated yearly electricity consumption to operate the product along with a scale for comparison among similar products. The comparison scale shows the least and most energy used by comparable models. The labeled model is represented by an arrow pointing to its relative position on that scale. This allows consumers to compare the labeled model with other similar models. The consumption figure printed on EnergyGuide labels, in kilowatt-hours (kWh), is based on average usage assumptions and your actual energy consumption may vary depending on the appliance usage.
EnergyGuide labels are not required on kitchen ranges, microwave ovens, clothes dryers, on-demand water heaters, portable space heaters, and lights.
Source: U. S. Department of Energy