U.S. Home Refrigerators Placed on Strict Energy Efficiency Diet

WASHINGTON, DC, August 29, 2011 (ENS) – Final energy efficiency standards for home refrigerators and freezers were issued on Friday by the U.S. Department of Energy. The new standards will improve the efficiency of home refrigerators some 25 percent by 2014.

Developed through a consensus process with manufacturers, consumer groups, and environmentalists, the new standards are expected to deliver more than $200 in electricity bill savings for the typical consumer over the lifetime of the appliance.

“These standards reflect a consensus among manufacturers, consumer groups and environmentalists. The agreement builds on more than three decades of common-sense state and federal refrigerator efficiency standards that have collectively saved American families hundreds of billions of dollars,” said Secretary Chu.

“What’s so remarkable is that even as the size of American refrigerators has increased and more features have been added, the historical purchase prices have come down and we are all saving money on our electricity bills every month,” said Chu.

Coldspot refrigerator, 1978 (Photo by Erik’s Pictures)

Once the new standards take effect in 2014, a typical fridge that exactly meets the new standards will use $215 to $270 less per year in electricity than a comparable unit which met the first state standards set in 1978.

The national home refrigerator standards have been strengthened three times since their enactment in 1987. The latest standards are based on a joint recommendation filed in 2010 with the Energy Department by consumer, environment and energy efficiency groups and more than 25 refrigerator manufacturers represented by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers.

“DOE’s action today, which was required by law, is based on the consensus agreement reached by stakeholders which balances energy savings, consumer choice and manufacturer impact,” said Joseph McGuire, president of the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers. “We applaud DOE for its work and continue to urge both DOE and EPA to carefully balance implementation of mandatory standards and voluntary programs such as Energy Star.”

Since the first refrigerator standards were set in 1978, the energy needed to power these appliances has decreased by more than two-thirds, while at the same time, costs have come down and storage space has increased.

Maytag 19 cu. ft. bottom-freezer refrigerator, January 2007 (Photo by Kusine)

“This final rule implements a consensus agreement between appliance manufacturers and energy efficiency supporters on new refrigerator and freezer standards,” said Steven Nadel, executive director of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. “This consensus agreement maximized cost-effective energy savings for consumers while keeping impacts on manufacturers to manageable levels.”

As a result of the new standards, consumers across the country are expected to save at total of more than $21 billion on their energy bills through 2043.

According to a Department of Energy analysis, the new standards will save enough electricity each year to power 3.4 million homes, about the same number of homes in the state of Virginia.

The standards also will avoid more than 340 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions over 30 years.

“Refrigerator standards have been quietly saving consumers money while protecting our environment for more than 35 years,” said David Goldstein, energy program co-director at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “But these new standards are the coolest yet, because they show that innovation can keep driving improvements even after decades of progress.”

“New fridges do an even better job of keeping our food fresh and providing consumer amenity,” said Goldstein, “yet they use only one-fifth the electricity they used to – and that means less pollution from power plants.”

These standards are part of a broader Department of Energy effort designed to help families save money by saving energy by increasing the efficiency of residential and commercial appliances and products.

Under the Obama administration, the Department of Energy has finalized new efficiency standards for more than 30 household and commercial products, which are estimated to save consumers a total of $300 billion through 2030.

Click here to see the standards on the Department of Energy website.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2011. All rights reserved.