Refrigerators to be 25 Percent More Efficient



September 27, 2010 —
Most new refrigerators will be 25 percent more
efficient starting in 2014 as a result of new efficiency standards announced by
the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).


Advocacy 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


“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), 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


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.”

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