Energy Guide labels are now on all types of appliances. They tell you how much electricity an appliance uses, based on tests required by the government.

An Energy Star is awarded to appliances that do well. But can you rely on those test results when you plug in at home? Consumer Reports says not necessarily when you're shopping for a refrigerator.

"In our tests, refrigerators typically use about 20 per cent more energy than it says on their yellow energy guide label.

That's because our tests are tougher, and we believe they better reflect how you'd actually use a refrigerator," said Celia Kuperszmid-Lehrman of Consumer Reports.

And Consumer Reports' tests have found some French-door refrigerators are off by far more than 20 per cent. A GE model made by Samsung used almost 40 per cent more electricity than the number on its guide would suggest. And Consumer Reports found an LG and Sears Kenmore made by LG used about 50 per cent more.

Consumer Reports says that the government's test procedures need to be better defined, so that manufacturers can't claim energy savings you are unlikely to see at home.

For example, Consumer Reports found those two refrigerators made by LG use significantly less energy only at the warmest settings required by the government tests.

"But you're not likely to use those settings, because your food's going to spoil faster. So you're not going to get the energy savings," Kuperszmid-Lehrman said.

Two months ago, the U.S. Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency began testing the six most common categories of Energy Star appliances.

They picked up two hundred basic models sent them to independent labs to verify the Energy Star rating provided by the manufacturers. It's the first step in a new program in which all the manufacturers will have to send their Energy Star appliances to approved labs to ensure they perform as they promise.

With a report from CTV British Columbia's Chris Olsen.