Energy department issues largest energy-efficiency standard ever

That boom you may have heard at the end of 2015 was the Department of Energy Appliance and Equipment Standards Program sending the year out with historic new efficiency standards for commercial air conditioners and furnaces. The new standards are expected to save 1.7 trillion kilowatt-hours over 30 years of sales, or almost as much energy as one year’s worth of coal generation in the United States.

Tons of savings
Rooftop air conditioners cool about half the commercial floor space in the nation. The DOE also set standards for commercial warm air furnaces, which are typically installed with the rooftop commercial air conditioners. Over the lifetime of the products, the standards will save businesses $167 billion on their utility bills and reduce carbon pollution by 885 million metric tons.

According to DOE estimates, the new rooftop air conditioner standards will save more energy and cut more emissions than any other standards completed by the agency. The previous record-setters were the 2014 standards that covered electric motors and the 2009 fluorescent tube lamp standards.


(Graph by Appliance Standards Awareness Project)

Takes teamwork
Representatives of individual manufacturers, installers, utilities, environmental groups and efficiency organizations actively contributed to the development of the standards. The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy You are leaving Western's site., the Appliance Standards Awareness Project You are leaving Western's site. (ASAP) and the National Resource Defense Council You are leaving Western's site. were among the 17 stakeholder groups participating in the Appliance Standards and Rulemaking Federal Advisory Committee (ASRAC).

ASRAC uses negotiated rule-making to engage all interested parties, gather data and attempt to reach consensus on establishing energy-efficiency standards. The proof of the process is in the savings—about 5 billion metric tons of emissions in 2014—and in the support for its work. In an interview with UtilityDive You are leaving Western's site., Marianne DiMascio of ASAP observed that the work of the committee often goes unnoticed because it is largely uncontroversial—a rare thing for a government agency in today’s political climate. “It doesn’t always make for exciting news to say there’s a policy that many people agree with, that is having a huge impact, and it’s about the type of motor your air conditioner uses [or the amount of insulation on a water heater],” she said.

Phasing in
These new commercial air conditioning and furnace standards will occur in two phases. The first phase will begin in 2018 and will deliver a 13-percent efficiency improvement in products. Five years later, an additional 15-percent increase in efficiency is required for new commercial units.

Visit the DOE website to learn more about the energy-efficiency standards for commercial air conditioners  and warm air furnaces.

ACEEE report finds energy and water savings in clothes washer market

The clothes washer market represents a big opportunity for energy, water and money savings, according to a new white paper by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy Redirecting to a non-government site (ACEEE) and the Natural Resources Defense Council Redirecting to a non-government site  (NRDC).

Saving Water and Energy through Clothes Washer Replacement in the Great Lakes Region profiles various opportunities for energy and water savings in the residential and commercial sectors. The report focuses on the Great Lakes states, but markets throughout the country have the potential to capture these savings.

The residential sector is not yet fully saturated with efficient units, and washer energy and water use varies significantly among units. Some utilities are basing rebate programs on the TopTen USA Redirecting to a non-government site and ENERGY STAR Most Efficient Redirecting to a non-government site lists, which designate the most efficient products among Energy Star-qualified appliances, and realizing substantial savings. Upgrading a residential clothes washer to a TopTen unit can result in energy savings up to 62 percent and water savings as much as 68 percent.

Programs targeting commercial machines are another source of savings. Commercial units do almost four times as many loads per day as residential units, and only 32 percent of the commercial washers sold are efficient units. For example, replacing the single load or “family size” commercial washers that are primarily found in multifamily laundry rooms with more efficient units can reduce energy use by 30 percent and water use by almost 50 percent.

The white paper finds that the diversity of the commercial market requires targeted approaches to address the specific energy- and water-saving opportunities in each sector. To better understand energy and water consumption in commercial laundry facilities, NRDC and ACEEE will be designing and implementing a pilot utility program for a target state in the Great Lakes region.