Today's Energy Standards for Refrigerators Reflect Consensus By Advocates, Industry to Increase Appliance Efficiency
Advocacy groups and appliance manufacturers hailed a 25 percent increase in energy efficiency for most new refrigerators, starting in 2014, thanks to new efficiency standards that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced today.
Washington, D.C., September 27, 2010 - Advocacy groups and appliance manufacturers hailed a 25 percent increase in energy efficiency for most new refrigerators, starting in 2014, thanks to new efficiency standards that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced today, continuing a 40-year trend of improving energy efficiency for this essential home appliance.
The groups said the new standards are the first step in the department's implementation of the recommendations they proposed to DOE in July for new minimum efficiency standards, tax credits and ENERGY STAR incentives for smart appliances affecting six major categories of home appliances.
"We appreciate that DOE has moved so quickly to adopt the agreed-upon standards," said Andrew deLaski, executive director of the Appliance Standards Awareness Project (ASAP). "The consensus standards not only save consumers a huge amount of energy and money, they also save DOE the energy, time and money that a contentious rulemaking process can require."
"The appliance industry has a strong history in reaching agreement with a broad base of energy and water efficiency advocates, as well as consumer groups, to develop energy conservation standards for home appliances," said Joseph McGuire, president of the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers. "The new minimum energy standards are a significant part of the agreement, as is the extension of the current super-efficient manufacturers' tax credits, which we are urging Congress to act on, and a soon-to-be-submitted petition to ENERGY STAR on smart appliances."
According to the proposed rule, a typical new 20-cubic-foot refrigerator with the freezer on top would use about 390 kilowatt hours (kwh) per year, down from about 900 kwh/year in 1990 and about 1,700 kwh/year in the early 1970s. On a national basis, the new standards would, over 30 years, save 4.5 quads of energy, or roughly enough to meet the total energy needs of one-fifth of all U.S. households for a year. Over the same period, the standards will save consumers about $18.5 billion. DOE will finalize the standards by year's end, and they take effect in 2014.
"This big step forward for refrigerator efficiency proves that the well of innovation leading to energy savings is very, very deep," said David B. Goldstein, energy program director for the Natural Resource Defense Council and winner of a MacArthur Prize for his work on refrigerator efficiency. "These standards pave the way for manufacturer investments in a next generation of products that demonstrate ever-increasing energy and cost savings."
Based on the July agreement, home appliance manufacturers and efficiency, environmental and consumer advocates have agreed to jointly pursue with Congress and the administration new standards for six categories of home appliances (refrigerators, freezers, clothes washers, clothes dryers, dishwashers and room air conditioners), as well as a recommendation that ENERGY STAR qualification criteria incorporate credit for Smart Grid capability and a package of targeted tax credits aimed at fostering the market for super-efficient appliances. (See agreement at www.aham.org/agreement.)
While DOE or Congress can act on the standards, the extension of the manufacturers' tax credit for super-efficient appliances requires new legislation. EPA and DOE will consider the recommendation to jump start the Smart Grid through incentives for the deployment of smart appliances through the ENERGY STAR program.
As part of the new refrigerator standards, ice maker energy consumption also will be reflected in product energy-use ratings, giving consumers a better way to gauge actual energy use when making a choice among refrigerators.
"Even though refrigerators have become much more energy efficient, they still account for about 10 percent of household electricity use," observed Alliance to Save Energy Vice President for Programs Jeffrey Harris. "With the new standards, consumers will not only save energy, they'll also have a better picture of total energy use, because the ratings will include automatic ice makers."
Several prior refrigerator standards, including those put in place in 1993 and 2001, are also the result of joint industry/advocate agreements.
"This kind of joint recommendation can expedite new standards," said Steven Nadel, executive director of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. "By moving quickly to adopt the agreement, DOE encourages all parties who are willing to work in a collaborative way to agree on new standards."
Here are the energy savings achieved by the proposed standards, relative to current standards for select categories:
Refrigerator-freezers Percent savings
Top mount freezer 25%
Bottom mount freezer 20%
Side-mount freezer with through the door ice 25%
Compact units 10-25%
The Alliance to Save Energy is a coalition of prominent business, government, environmental and consumer leaders who promote the efficient and clean use of energy worldwide to benefit consumers, the environment, the economy and national security.
The Appliance Standards Awareness Project is dedicated to increasing awareness of and support for cost-effective appliance and equipment efficiency standards. Founded in 1999, ASAP is led by a steering committee that includes representatives from energy efficiency organizations, the environmental community, consumer groups, utilities, and state government. See standardsASAP.org.
The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers is a not-for-profit trade association representing manufacturers of major and portable home appliances, floor care appliances, and suppliers to the industry and is headquartered in Washington, D.C. You can visit the AHAM Web site at www.aham.org.
The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, nonprofit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has 1.3 million members and online activists, served from offices in New York, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Beijing. More information on NRDC is available at its Web site: www.nrdc.org.
The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing energy efficiency as a means of promoting economic prosperity, energy security, and environmental protection. ACEEE was involved in the legislation establishing federal efficiency standards, and has been active in all rulemakings since then. For information about ACEEE and its programs, publications, and conferences, contact ACEEE, 529 14th Street N.W., Suite 600, Washington, D.C. 20045 or visit aceee.org.