An ENERGY STAR rating for a refrigerator means that it meets the government guidelines for being an energy efficient device. There is a difference between low energy and ENERGY STAR rated, as the government has specific qualifications that must be met before awarding the ENERGY STAR certification.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency began the ENERGY STAR certification program in 1992 to help consumers select appliances that save them money on their energy bills and also reduce the impact on the environment. The energy an appliance uses is measured in kWhs per year, with lower numbers meaning the appliance is more energy efficient. The general rule of thumb is that ENERGY STAR-rated appliances reduce energy use by 10 to 20 percent per year.
There are other standards that appliances must meet to receive ENERGY STAR certification from the Environmental Protection Agency, such as contributing significant energy savings nationally and having widely available technology for multiple manufacturers to use. This means there are a variety of manufacturers with access to the technology to make ENERGY STAR-rated appliances. All government-approved ENERGY STAR appliances have the blue-and-white star logo sticker on the front, so consumers can easily identify products that meet the government's standards.