Deep cuts in the White House’s proposed 2018 budget released today would eliminate the popular Energy Star program and 50 others as part of a 31 percent decrease in funding to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Energy Star, which has enjoyed bipartisan support since it was created in 1992, reports saving consumers $362 billion on their utility bills over the past 25 years. That’s a savings of about $500 per year for a typical home that uses such Energy Star-certified appliances as refrigerators, dishwashers, washers, and air conditioners, among more than 60 others products.

President Trump's budget proposal—which slashes goverment spending programs and agency budgets—is likely to change as Congress debates the blueprint and its own spending priorities. But scrapping Energy Star could lead to higher energy bills for consumers if appliance manufacturers stop paying attention to efficiency.

About 90 percent of consumers say they recognize the blue Energy Star symbol, according to the EPA, and almost half of all U.S. households purchased an Energy Star product in 2015. The agency says consumers have indicated they'd be willing to spend $250 to $350 more for an Energy Star refrigerator.

A joint marketing program of the EPA and the Department of Energy, Energy Star is a voluntary labeling effort to encourage energy-saving innovations and to promote products that save energy and water. To earn the designation, a product must undergo third-party certification and is subject to periodic “off-the-shelf” testing to ensure nothing has changed.

How Energy Star Saves

Around your home, washers and dryers, refrigerators and dishwashers, window and central air conditioners are all part of the program. So are water heaters, furnaces and other heating and cooling equipment. Investing in Energy Star appliances can lead to substantial savings for homeowners. Energy Star reports that washers, for example, use about 70 percent less energy and 75 percent less water than a standard washer from 20 years ago. Today’s refrigerators use 75 percent less energy, air conditioners 50 percent less, and dishwashers 40 percent less.

A large percentage of the appliances tested by Consumer Reports are already Energy Star certified—something we note on the model pages that feature our test results. All of the front-loaders in our tests are Energy Star and 80 percent of the high-efficiency top loaders. And they tend to perform well. “You rarely see an Energy Star product at the bottom of our ratings,” says Mark Connelly, who directs our testing labs.

Energy Star is one of the most successful public-private partnerships, says the National Resources Defense Council. Partners include manufacturers, retailers and other related business. The EPA and DOE like it because energy-efficient products reduce greenhouse gases. Manufacturers consider the bright blue star a selling point that helps their products stand out in the marketplace. Recently more than 1,000 companies signed a letter of support for the program, urging Congress to save it. And, of course, consumers like it because it cuts their energy costs.

“For every dollar Americans invest in energy efficiency through Energy Star, they save, on average, $4.50 on their energy bills,” says the National Resources Defense Council.

“Eliminating public funding for Energy Star does not save money—quite the opposite,” says Shannon Baker-Branstetter, policy counsel at Consumers Union, the policy and mobilization arm of Consumer Reports. “The program has been incredibly cost-effective, returning thousands of dollars to consumers for every public dollar invested.”

The NRDC questions the fiscal wisdom of the proposed budget cuts. “With an annual budget of $50 million, Energy Star paved the way for $34 billion in annual consumer and business savings in 2015 alone,” the council reports. “For every dollar Americans invest in energy efficiency through Energy Star they save, on average, $4.50 on their energy bills.”

Consumers Union is asking consumers to take action by writing to their representatives in Congress. For a sample letter, see “Don’t Cut Energy Star.”