Home Appliance Manufacturers & Energy Efficiency Advocates Announce New Standards Recommendations

August 03, 2010 by Jeff Shepard

The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) announced that home appliance manufacturers and energy efficiency advocates have agreed to improved efficiency standards and tax policies for refrigerators, freezers, clothes washers, clothes dryers, dishwashers and room air conditioners. This agreement could save enough energy to meet the total energy needs of 40% of American homes for one year and the amount of water necessary to meet the current water needs of every customer in the City of Los Angeles for 25 years. Global warming CO2 will be reduced by 550 million metric tons over the same time period, without considering the emissions reductions from smart appliances. Major home appliance manufacturers, their trade organization and a nationwide coalition of energy and water efficiency supporters have called for new national minimum efficiency standards, production tax credits for super-efficient appliances and inclusion of "smart grid" readiness as a feature of future ENERGY STAR qualified appliances.

Appliance manufactures and efficiency advocates will pursue adoption of these recommendations through administrative action by the Department of Energy and through legislative action by Congress.

Based on Department of Energy (DOE) analysis, the recommended standards and tax credits will save more than 9 quads of energy over 30 years, or roughly enough to meet the total energy needs of 40% of American homes for one year.

The recommended new standards will reduce new refrigerator and freezer energy use by up to 30% by January 2014. For top loading clothes washers, 26% energy savings and 16% water savings would kick in for 2015 relative to current standards, increasing to 37% energy and water savings in 2018. For front loading clothes washers, the savings will be 43% for energy and 52% for water in 2015 compared to today’s standards. Clothes dryers will increase in efficiency by 5% in 2015. In addition, changes to the dryer test procedure will reduce over-drying, saving additional energy and extending the life of clothes. Room air conditioners will see a 10 to 15% increase in efficiency effective June 2014 and dishwashers will see 14% energy savings and 23% water savings beginning in January 2013. Many of the new standards are based on levels of efficiency that previously earned federal tax credits, illustrating how these tax credits can contribute towards transforming markets towards higher efficiency products.

For a typical household, products just meeting the new standards would cut their total electric bill by about 6% relative to products just meeting the current standards. Based on analysis by ACEEE, the net total national benefits for consumers for products purchased through 2030 will reach nearly $30 billion. ACEEE analysis shows that estimated upfront cost increases to make products more efficient will pay back in lower energy bills well within the life of the affected products, often within just a few years.

Additional key features of the agreement include:

– Support for a three-year extension and update of an existing manufacturers’ tax credit for the production of super-efficient clothes washers, dishwashers, refrigerators and freezers. Products that would qualify for the tax incentive significantly exceed the federal minimum efficiency requirements, thereby accelerating and increasing energy and water savings. The current manufacturing appliance tax credits impact approximately 40,000 US jobs: updating and extending the credits will help manufacturers retain and expand employment.

– A planned petition to the ENERGY STAR program to provide a 5% credit to the required energy levels for smart appliances. Smart appliances will help consumers save money and energy with features that allow appliance operation to adjust in reaction to dynamic pricing while allowing the consumer to ultimately have full control of when and how an appliance operates.

– Recommendations that DOE improve test methods for dryers and refrigerators to better represent actual product energy use. These changes will create additional incentives for manufacturers to reduce product energy use.

The agreement was signed by major appliance manufacturing members of the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers and by major energy and water efficiency organizations, consumer groups and environmental organizations including the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, Alliance for Water Efficiency, Alliance to Save Energy, Appliance Standards Awareness Project, Consumer Federation of America, National Consumer Law Center, Natural Resources Defense Council, Northwest Power and Conservation Council, and Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships.