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Dept. Of Energy Raises Energy Standards For Refrigerators


— Manufacturers will have to increase the energy efficiency of
most new refrigerators by 25 percent beginning in 2014 under new standards set
by The Department of Energy (DOE).

The new rules, which DOE is expected to finalize
by year’s end, will reduce the energy use of a typical
20-cubic-foot top-mount refrigerator to 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.

Specifically, the energy consumption of top mounts
and side-by-side models with through-the-door ice
would have to be cut by 25 percent; bottom-mount
configurations by 20 percent; and compact refrigerators
10 percent to 25 percent under the new mandate.

Stand-alone freezers would similarly be required to
use 25 percent to 30 percent less electricity.

The new DOE rules will also require manufacturers
to incorporate ice-maker energy consumption into
product energy-use ratings, which will standardize the ratings procedure and give
consumers a more accurate gauge of actual energy consumption in home use.

The new standards, part of a sweeping proposal submitted by majap makers
and advocacy groups in July, are expected to save enough energy over 30 years to
meet the total power needs of one-fifth of all U.S. households for one year, saving
consumers about $18.5 billion, DOE said.

The majap industry, conservation groups and other advocacy organizations lauded
the move, which they described as the first step in implementing their proposed
recommendations for new minimum efficiency standards, tax credits and Energy
Star incentives for smart appliances affecting six major categories of home appliances.

“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
(AHAM), an industry trade group. “The new
minimum energy standards are a significant part of the
agreement, as is the extension of the current superefficient
manufacturers’ tax credits, which we are urging
Congress to act on, and a soon-to-be-submitted
petition to Energy Star on smart appliances.”

David Goldstein, energy program director for the
Natural Resource Defense Council and winner of a
MacArthur Prize for his work on refrigerator efficiency,
described the new standards as “a big step forward”
that will help pave the way for manufacturer investments
in the next generation of energy-efficient products.

Refrigerators are one of six categories including freezers, washers and dryers, dishwashers
and room air conditioners that were targeted for higher-efficiency standards
by majap makers and efficiency, environmental and consumer advocates. The organizations
have agreed to jointly pursue new standards for the remaining categories
with Congress and the Obama administration, and have recommended 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.