New Efficiency Rules Cut Need for 91 New Power Plants

WASHINGTON, DC, January 19, 2001 (ENS) - In the last week of his term, U.S. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson has announced the adoption of new energy efficiency standards for four types of appliances that are projected to save consumers and businesses more than $19 billion through the year 2030.

The new standards announced Wednesday apply to residential central air conditioners and heat pumps, residential clothes washers, residential water heaters, and commercial heating and cooling equipment.


Outgoing Energy Secretary Bill Richardson (Photo courtesy National Renewable Energy Lab)
Taken together, the energy savings generated by the new standards can alleviate the need to build 91 new 400-megawatt power plants, the Energy Department says. The residential central air conditioner standard alone is estimated to avoid the need for 53 of these plants.

In addition to the four standards announced today, the department has issued energy efficiency standards for three other appliances since 1997: residential refrigerators, residential room air conditioners, and fluorescent lamp ballasts.

Together, these seven standards are projected to save 25 quadrillion Btu (quads) of energy by 2030, enough to light all U.S. households for 20 years and avoid the need to build 124 new 400-megawatt power plants.

"The dramatic energy and pollution savings due to these standards and previous ones issued by the Energy Department since 1997 mark one of the biggest environmental achievements of the Clinton administration," said Secretary Richardson. "Manufacturers, energy efficiency advocates and staff at the Energy Department worked in an unprecedented consensus process to develop the clothes washer, lamp ballast and refrigerator standards."

The department held a series of public meetings to get input from interested parties, including manufacturers, consumer groups and energy efficiency advocates on the department's analyses. Public input was instrumental in developing the standards.


Some of today's appliances are energy efficient. This Energy Star labeled, horizontal axis washer, uses half the energy and one-third the water of conventional top-loading washing machines. The washer spins the clothes dryer than a conventional machine and saves energy because the clothes require less drying time. (Photo courtesy D&R Int., Ltd.)
"This rule takes a very balanced approach to energy savings, consumer preference and manufacturer impact," said Joseph McGuire, president of the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, commenting on the residential clothes washers standards. "While its energy savings will be great, it also provides adequate time for manufacturers to comply with the energy requirements and to continue to provide consumers with a wide variety of models and product offerings."

The seven appliance energy efficiency standards issued since 1997 should reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 518 million metric tons, the equivalent of taking 14.7 million cars off the roads. They also will result in net energy savings to the nation of $27 billion through the year 2030.

"The new efficiency standards announced will save consumers tens of billions of dollars, help avoid future power supply shortages, reduce pollutant emissions and global warming," said Howard Gelder, executive director of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

The final rules for clothes washers and commercial equipment were published in the Federal Register on January 12. The final rule for water heaters was published on January 17 in the Federal Register. The final rule for central air conditioners and heat pumps is on display at the Federal Register and will be available at:

The standards are manufacturing requirements. They set minimum allowable energy efficiency requirements for products to be manufactured for sale in the United States.


Fossil fueled power plants pump pollutants and greenhouse gases into the air. (Photo courtesy Ohio Environmental Council)
By 2030, the standards for residential central air conditioners and heat pumps are projected to save 4.2 quads, enough to light all U.S. homes for 3.3 years. The standards go into effect in January 2006 and will increase the efficiency of central air conditioners by 30 percent. These energy savings will avoid the need to build 53 power plants.

By 2030, the clothes washer standards will cut water use by 10.5 trillion gallons and save 5.5 quads, enough to light all U.S. homes for 4.3 years. The standards go into effect in two stages. The first stage goes into effect on January 1, 2004, and will reduce clothes washer energy use by 22 percent. The second stage goes into effect on January 1, 2007, and will reduce energy use by 35 percent. These energy savings will avoid the need to build 18 power plants.

The new standards can be met by either top loading or front loading clothes washers. There are top loading washers on the market today that meet the higher 2007 standard.

By 2030, the new residential water heater standards are projected to save consumers more than $2 billion and reduce electricity and natural gas usage by 4.6 quads. The standards go into effect on January 12, 2004, and will increase the efficiency of electric water heaters by 4 percent and increase the efficiency of gas water heaters by 8 percent. These energy savings will avoid the need to build 13 power plants.

Over a 25-year period, the new commercial heating, air conditioning and water heating equipment standards are projected to save 1.1 quads of electricity and natural gas, and will avoid the need to build seven power plants. They cover 18 product categories of commercial air conditioners, heat pumps, furnaces, water heaters, and hot water storage tanks, and become effective on October 29, 2003. They are expected to save U.S. businesses approximately $0.9 billion.

The new standards are part of the department's Lighting and Appliance Standards Program, established to meet the requirements of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975. They are designed to achieve the maximum improvement in energy efficiency which is technologically feasible and economically justified and reflect the department's commitment to promote energy efficiency, energy security, consumer savings, and environmental protection.