Though the fate of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is uncertain under the current administration, one of its most successful programs, Energy Star, is doing a lot of good for the economy and electrical industry.

Recently, the EPA announced that it had finalized its Energy Star specification for electric vehicle (EV) chargers. The Energy Star label's purpose is to provide manufacturers with benchmarks for energy efficiency. Upon meeting those specifications, products can then bear the Energy Star label, which indicates to consumers that a product is certified to meet minimum levels for energy efficiency. The idea is that, when those products are then installed, they will save energy and money for the consumer versus products that do not meet Energy Star guidelines.

The new specification covers Level 1 and Level 2 chargers, with a Level 3 specification presumably on the way. Level 1 charging equipment can plug into a common household receptacle and are intended to fully charge an EV overnight (about 8 to 12 hours). Level 2 chargers operate on a 240-volt load, and are intended to fully charge an EV in 3 to 4 hours. Level 3 chargers would fully charge an EV in minutes so that a traveler could refuel while stopped for a meal or short break.

The International Energy Association estimates approximately 114,000 EVs were sold in 2015 in the United States. The same year, the agency states 122,000 Level 1 and Level 2 EV chargers were shipped in the United States, and by 2020, the agency estimates that number to reach 1.2 million.

To meet growing EV demand, electrical contractors are poised to benefit from investment in EV charger installation and infrastructure. With more efficient devices saving money for owners, long-term costs should decrease. Combined with Tesla's $35,000 Model 3 expected to launch in 2018, the EV charging market may be about ready to become mainstream.

According to the EPA, these Energy Star requirements could help save more than $17 million and more than 280 million pounds of greenhouse gas emissions each year. That would be like taking about 26,000 vehicles off of the road.

“EPA is excited to help the growing electric vehicle community reduce unnecessary energy waste by highlighting more efficient chargers and to recognize leading manufacturers designing their products with the latest efficient technologies,” said Ann Bailey, Branch Chief of the Energy Star Products Program.

Learn more about Energy Star at www.energystar.gov.