Big Agreement on Home Appliances Means Big Savings for Consumers

08/04/2010 01:55 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Visit NRDCs Switchboard BlogYesterday, energy efficiency advocates and the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) announced an agreement on energy and water efficiency standards for several appliances that will save more than 9 quads, 5 trillion gallons of water, and billions of consumer dollars over the next 30 years.   That’s enough energy to meet the total energy needs of 40 percent of American homes for one year and the amount of water necessary to meet the current water needs of every customer in the City of Los Angeles for 25 years.  There will also be 550 million metric tons of CO2 pollution saved over the same period.  My colleague Ed Osann writes in more detail about the negotiations and the water savings from the agreement on his blog, but below is a quick overview of the energy impacts.

The agreement covers several common household appliances – refrigerator/freezers, clothes washers and dryers, room air conditioners and dishwashers. It includes new energy and water efficiency standards for these products, generally at the maximum level that is technically feasible and cost effective. In particular the new standards will be most stringent for products with high sales volume that have the biggest potential to make a dent in energy savings. In addition to the new standards, the agreement also includes a tax credit for the manufacture refrigerator/freezers, clothes washers, and dishwashers that meet even higher efficiency standards. Finally, the groups also agreed on pursuing smart appliances (as defined by EPA) within ENERGY STAR.

The biggest energy savings come from refrigerator/freezers, for which the agreement will save 4.81 quads over the next 30 years. Next come washers and dryers which will see savings of 1.61 and 1.25 quads, respectively. Finally the agreement will save 0.84 quads from each room air conditioners and dishwashers. The majority of the savings come from the agreed upon standard levels with 1.61 quads of the total savings coming from the tax credits.

It is remarkable that despite being the appliance subject to standards for the longest length of time (California set refrigerator standards 30 years ago!) refrigerators still have cost effective efficiency potential that will cut energy consumption by up to 30 percent in 2014.  Energy efficiency is the low hanging fruit that grows back when we pick it.

Of course, these standards still need to be adopted by DOE or Congress, the tax credit adopted legislatively and the smart appliance credit adopted by EPA. NRDC is continuing to work alongside other efficiency advocates (ACEEE, ASAP, and many others) and AHAM to ensure that our agreement goes into full effect.

These six appliances now join street lights and residential air conditioners and furnaces in waiting for Congress to enact consensus agreements on future standards.  There certainly are a lot of energy savings and billions of consumer savings just looking for a home on Capitol Hill.