DOE issues energy household appliance energy standards

Jan. 18, 2001—The U.S. Energy Department Thursday rushed out energy efficiency standards for residential central air conditioners and heat pumps, clothes washers, and water heaters, and commercial heating and cooling equipment.

Outgoing U.S. Energy Sec. Bill Richardson said taken together the new standards will save consumers and businesses more than $19 billion through the year 2030 and eliminate the need to build 91 400 MW power plants. He said the residential central air conditioner standard alone will avoid the need for 53 of these plants.

The standards set minimum allowable energy efficiency requirements for products to be manufactured for sale in the U.S. The standards were developed after a series of public hearings, including manufacturers, consumer groups, and energy efficiency advocates.

Joseph M. McGuire, president of the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, said the Energy Department (DOE) rule takes a balanced approach to energy savings, consumer preference, and manufacturer impact. While the washing machine standards will result in substantial energy savings, he said, it also provides adequate time for manufacturers to comply with the energy requirements and provide consumers with a variety of products.

The washing machine standard go into effect in two stages. The first is effective Jan. 1, 2004, and will reduce clothes washer energy use by 22%. The second stage goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2007, and will reduce energy use by 35%.

The new standards can be met by either top or front-loading clothes washers. DOE said some top-loading washers on the market today already meet the higher 2007 standard. By 2030, the clothes washer standards will cut water use by 10.5 trillion gal. DOE said these energy savings will avoid the need to build 18 power plants.

Standards for residential air conditioners go into effect in January 2006 and will increase the efficiency of central air conditioners by 30%, according to DOE. These energy savings will avoid the need to build 53 power plants.

Residential water heater standards go into effect Jan. 12, 2004, and will increase the efficiency of electric water heaters 4% and increase the efficiency of gas water heaters 8%. By 2030, the new residential water heater standards are projected to save consumers more than $2 billion and eliminate the need to build 13 power plants.

The new commercial heating, air conditioning, and water heating equipment standards cover 18 product categories and become effective Oct. 29, 2003. They are expected to save U.S. businesses $0.9 billion and eliminate the need to build 7 power plants.

The new standards are part of the agency’s Lighting and Appliance Standards Program, established to meet the requirements of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975. They are designed to achieve the maximum technologically feasible improvement in energy efficiency that is economically justified.

In addition to the four standards reported Thursday, the department has issued energy efficiency standards for three other appliances since 1997: residential refrigerators, residential room air conditioners, and fluorescent lamp ballasts