The U.S. Department of Energy has ordered the manufacturers of more than a dozen appliances and products, ranging from traffic signals to commercial ice makers, to create products that use less energy.
Conservationists lauded the action, but also urged the department to enforce the testing of new equipment.
“Manufacturers need clarity on how to comply with the new standards, and DOE must be able to enforce them,” Kateri Callahan, president of the Alliance to Save Energy, said in a statement. “We therefore urge DOE to promptly specify testing procedures that were absent from the Federal Register rulemaking notice for many of the 15 product categories.”
Part of new energy law
A broad energy bill passed by the Congress and signed into law this summer required the department to develop energy efficiency standards for 15 residential and commercial appliances.
“We put tougher efficiency standards in the energy bill so we could get dramatic energy savings to the consumers faster,” said Senate Energy Committee Chairman Pete Domenici, welcoming the department’s action on Tuesday. “If we hadn’t mandated new standards in the bill, the administrative process for raising these standards could have taken years.”
Under the new regulations, ceiling fans and their lighting kits must be manufactured to use less energy, and the rules will also apply to commercial air conditioning and heating equipment.
For smaller products, such as illuminated “Exit” signs posted in buildings, the regulations go into effect in 2006. For larger appliances like commercial refrigerators and clothes washers, manufacturers have until 2010 to comply.
According to the DOE, there is no requirement for consumers to replace existing equipment before the time that they would normally replace those appliances or pieces of equipment.
Savings compared to 100 power plants
The nonprofit American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy estimates that by 2020 the stricter standards will save consumers $8.24 billion per year, and reduce peak power demand by 30,227 megawatts.
That is equal to the amount of electricity produced by 100 power plants, said Lowell Ungar, senior policy analyst for the Alliance to Save Energy, a coalition of business, government and environmental leaders.
“In terms of energy efficiency these standards are the most important piece of the energy bill,” Ungar said. “They will save consumers money, they will reduce global warming, they will reduce strain on the electric grid.”
The Energy Department was unable to provide information on how much less energy the regulations would require the specific appliances to use, said spokesperson Chris Kielich.