Currently, DOE’s Building Technologies Office implements minimum energy conservation standards through its Appliance and Equipment Standards Program. This program covers more than 50 products, representing about 90% of home energy use, 60% of commercial building energy use, and 29% of industrial energy use. As a result of these standards, customers cumulatively saved about $55 billion on their utility bills in 2013. Since the beginning of 2009, 25 new or updated standards have been issued, with annual savings increasing by more than 50 percent over the next decade. By 2030, cumulative operating cost savings from all standards in effect since 1987 will reach over $1.7 trillion, with a cumulative reduction of 6.8 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions, equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas emissions of 1.4 billion automobiles.
The new standards for refrigerators and freezers were originally issued in August of 2011, taking effect in the fall of 2014. In 1972, the energy use of a new refrigerator was 1,800 kWh/yr. Although new refrigerators purchased today are about 20% bigger and often include advanced features like ice-makers, their energy use is less than 500 kWh/yr. The new standards will save an additional 25% of energy savings. ENERGY STAR qualified refrigerator/freezers must achieve at least an additional 20% savings relative to the national standards. These standards will be met by improved efficiency in compressors and fan motors, improved heat exchange in the evaporator and condenser, improved temperature controls and further insulation improvements, including vacuum insulation panels which use technology similar to a thermos, limiting the transfer of heat. These panels are already commonplace in refrigerated trucks, commercial refrigeration and some residential refrigerators and freezers. DOE estimates that these updated national standards would save about 4.8 quads of primary energy cumulatively by 2043 and generate up to $36 billion in net present value savings for consumers. DOE also estimates CO2 emissions will be cut by 344 million metric tons over 30 years, an amount equal to the annual emissions of about 67 million cars. NOx emissions and mercury emissions would also be reduced, as well.
Rooftop air conditioners are commonly used in low-rise buildings such as schools, restaurants, big-box stores, and small office buildings. They cool about half of the total commercial floor space in the United States. The current efficiency standards measure efficiency at full capacity, although air conditioners rarely operate at that level except on the hottest days. The new proposed standards are based on a metric called IEER (integrated energy efficiency ratio) which better reflects actual a/c conditions. Typical new units that just meet the commercial building energy code have IEER levels of about 9.5 to 11.5. However, some equipment on the market today achieve IEER levels as high as 21. The proposed standards would set minimum IEER levels of 12.3 to 14.8 depending on equipment.
The proposed new efficiency standards for commercial rooftop air conditioner energy are projected to slash energy consumption by about 30%, achieving the largest national energy savings of any standard ever issued by the DOE. DOE estimates that over the lifetime of units sold over thirty years, the proposed standards would save businesses between $16 and $50 billion and reduce electricity consumption by about 1.3 trillion kilowatt-hours, or enough energy to cool all the commercial buildings in the U.S. for 7 years. The new standards are expected to save a typical building owner between $3,500 and $16,500 over the life of a single unit. Overall savings may be higher since many buildings have multiple units.
IAMU will continue to monitor future updates to appliance standards and issue updated recommendations for utility rebate programs, in accordance.
For more detailed information on these standards and other appliance standards, please refer to