Energy Star program adds clothes dryers

EnergyStarLogoUtilities looking to expand their energy-efficiency programs to include new appliances may want to consider offering rebates for Energy Star-certified clothes dryers. On May 19, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized the ENERGY STAR Version 1.0 Specification for Clothes Dryers. The standard will take effect on Jan. 1, 2015. 

Effective in 2015, the new specifications will recognize a selection of high-efficiency electric, gas and compact dryers that will use approximately 20 percent less energy than what the minimum efficiency standards require, the EPA stated. If all residential clothes dryers sold in the United States meet the Energy Star requirements, utility cost savings will grow to more than $1.5 billion annually According to the agency, the increase in efficiency could prevent more than 22 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions each year.

Clothes dryers are in more than 80 percent of U.S. homes, and account for about 6 percent of residential electricity consumption. “The addition of clothes dryers expands the range of Energy Star products to include one of the most energy-intensive home appliances not yet covered by the program,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “Working with industry on innovative approaches to address our changing climate, we are helping consumers select more energy efficient appliances, save money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

Dryer models that meet the new Energy Star requirements are likely to have improved auto termination sensors, which help reduce energy use by ending the drying cycle once clothes are dry. Some of the more efficient gas and electric Energy Star dryers will employ a promising new technology to recapture the hot air the dryer uses and pump it back into the drum to dry more clothes. Re-using most of the heat creates a heat pump dryer that is more efficient and avoids the need for ducts to exhaust heat out of the laundry room.

The new Energy Star specification also establishes optional “connected” criteria for residential clothes dryers. This connected functionality offers consumers convenience and energy-savings features, such as an alert indicating there is a performance issue, or feedback on the energy-efficiency of different cycle selections. These products will also be “smart grid” ready, making the appliances a natural for demand response programs. Consumers will be able to connect the dryer with their local power provider to take advantage of programs that save them money on their energy bills, and help the utility with load control.

To earn the Energy Star label, products must be certified by an EPA-recognized third party, based on testing in an EPA-recognized laboratory. In addition, manufacturers of the products must participate in verification testing programs operated by recognized certification bodies.

In 2013 alone, Energy Star helped Americans save $30 billion on their utility bills and prevent greenhouse gas emissions equal to those of 38 million homes.