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issue: July 2010 ApplianceMagazine.com

Appliance Efficiency Standards
Shaping the Future of U.S. Appliance Efficiency

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The Energy Efficient and Smart Appliance Agreement of 2010 is an agreement forged by the appliance industry and by environmental groups, working together.

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. The new standards are detailed in the Energy Efficient and Smart Appliance Agreement of 2010.

The recommended standards for new appliances include:

  • Refrigerator and freezer energy use will be reduced by up to 30% by January 2014.
  • Top loading clothes washers would reduce 26% energy savings and 16% water savings as of 2015, increasing to 37% energy and water savings in 2018.
  • Front loading clothes washers will reduce energy use 43% and water use 52% by 2015.
  • Clothes dryers will increase in efficiency by 5% in 2015. 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 10-15% increase in efficiency effective June 2014.
  • 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, which AHAM said illustrates how these tax credits can contribute towards transforming markets towards higher efficiency products.

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.

There's More To It than Just Efficiency Standards

Additional key features of the agreement include:

Manufacturers' Tax Credit Extension. The agreement includes 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 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 should help manufacturers retain and expand employment.

Special Energy Star Credit for Smart Appliances. A planned petition to the Energy Star program would ask for 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 for Better Dryer and Fridge Test Methods.The agreement recommends 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.

How Much Energy Could Be Saved?

Based on Department of Energy (DOE) analysis, the signers of the agreement expect the recommended standards and tax credits will 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 water efficiency standards and tax credits for clothes washers and dishwashers will save about 5 trillion gallons over 30 years, or approximately 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. These reductions are equivalent to taking 100 million of today’s typical cars off the road for a year.

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 the inclusion of smart grid readiness as a feature of future Energy Star qualified appliances.

"The resulting energy and water savings will cut bills for consumers by billions of dollars and reduce global warming emissions for decades to come," said Steven Nadel, executive director of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).

“This agreement is an innovative approach to delivering substantial energy and water savings to the consumer through traditional energy and water standards and manufacturing incentives for super-efficient appliances, as well as new incentives for the deployment of smart appliances,” said AHAM President Joseph M. McGuire.

Appliance manufactures and efficiency advocates will pursue adoption of the new recommendations through administrative action by the Department of Energy and through legislative action by Congress. Senator Jeff Bingaman, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, noted that "increased energy efficiency through cost-effective energy standards for appliances and consumer products remains the single most cost-effective strategy for strengthening our nation's economic and energy security."

Bingaman said consensus agreements such as this generally get bipartisan support.

Who's A Part of This Agreement?

Supporters of the agreement include many major appliance producers who are members of AHAM, and who among them produce more than 95% of the major appliances shipped in the United States:

AGA Marvel
Airwell Group
Alliance Laundry
Brown Stove
Fagor America
Fisher & Paykel
Friedrich A/C
General Electric
Heat Controller
LG Electronics
Scotsman Ice
Sharp Electronics
Viking Range

Also supporting the agreement are several major energy and water efficiency organizations, consumer groups, and environmental organizations, including:

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
Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships

Further details on the agreement can be found at www.aham.org/agreement.


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