U.S. DOE Finalizes Efficiency Standards for Residential Refrigerators and Freezers

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced two energy-efficiency actions that will save American households and businesses $5 billion per year on their utility bills, while significantly cutting energy waste and harmful carbon pollution. The final standards for residential refrigerators and freezers—which are Congressionally mandated and reflect a joint recommendation from a wide range of stakeholders, including the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, Consumer Federation of America, and energy efficiency advocates—and proposed standards for commercial fans and blowers are expected to save Americans approximately $92 billion on their utility bills. Together, these updated standards are also expected to reduce nearly 420 million metric tons of dangerous carbon dioxide emissions cumulatively over 30 years, which is equivalent to the combined annual emissions of nearly 53 million homes.

With its actions in 2023 that built on progress in 2021 and 2022, the DOE now projects that the energy-efficiency standards advanced by the Biden-Harris Administration this term will together provide nearly $1 trillion in consumer savings over 30 years. The DOE also estimates that these standards, once finalized, will cumulatively reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2.5 billion metric tons or more—an amount roughly equivalent to the emissions of 18 million gas-powered cars, 22 coal-fired power plants, or 10.5 million homes over 30 years.

The DOE has issued 30 proposed or final energy efficiency standards in 2023, meeting the Administration’s goal for the year while also carrying out Congressional direction for energy savings that maintain reliability and performance across household appliances and commercial and industrial equipment. These actions reinforce the trajectory of consumer savings that form a key pillar of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda and underscore the Administration’s commitment to tackling the climate crisis while lowering costs for American families and businesses. The President’s unprecedented actions to strengthen efficiency standards will save the average family at least $100 a year through lower energy bills.

Last fall, a broad coalition of appliance manufacturers and advocates for consumer protection, water and energy efficiency, and climate action announced their support for updating several home appliance standards, following on DOE proposals. In 2024, the Administration will continue making rapid progress on finalizing cost-saving standards informed by stakeholder input.

Residential Refrigerators and Freezers

The efficiency standards being adopted today for residential refrigerators, refrigerator-freezers, and freezers, which have not been updated in more than a decade, align with recommendations from a diverse set of stakeholders, including manufacturers, the manufacturing trade association, energy, environmental, and consumer advocacy groups, states, and utilities. Compliance will be required either January 31, 2029, or January 31, 2030, depending on the configuration of the refrigerator or freezer. The energy savings over 30 years of shipments is 5.6 quadrillion British thermal units, which represents a savings of 11 percent relative to the energy use of products currently on the market. The DOE estimates that the standards would save consumers $36.4 billion over 30 years of shipments and result in cumulative emission reductions of nearly 101 million metric tons of carbon dioxide—an amount roughly equivalent to the combined annual emissions of 12.7 million homes.

Commercial Fans and Blowers

The DOE also released a proposed rulemaking for commercial fans and blowers that would reduce energy costs for American businesses by $3.3 billion annually. This proposal—the first federal standard for this product—follows the lead of efficiency standards already established by the state of California for general fans, extending savings to consumers nationwide and providing clarity for manufacturers. If adopted within the DOE’s proposed timeframe, the new rule will come into effect in 2029. The DOE estimates the new rule will reduce utility costs for American businesses by nearly $56 billion over 30 years of shipments, while reducing carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 318 million metric tons—an amount roughly equivalent to the combined annual emissions of 40 million homes.

Delivering Savings to American Families and Businesses

In addition to lowering costs through improved energy standards, the DOE earlier this year launched the Energy Savings Hub—an easy-to-use online resource consumers can use to access the cost-saving benefits of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda. The website outlines clean energy tax credits and forthcoming rebates, helping people take control of their energy costs and have cleaner and more efficient options as a consumer—whether they’re looking to purchase an electric vehicle, update an appliance, or make their home safer and more comfortable.

The DOE’s Building Technologies Office implements minimum energy conservation standards for more than 60 categories of appliances and equipment. To learn more, visit the Appliance and Equipment Standards Program homepage.

Source: U.S. Department of Energy

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