Department of Energy Joins with Manufacturers, Environmentalists to Announce New Efficiency Standards for Home Refrigerators

August 26, 2011

Today, the Department of Energy issued final energy efficiency standards for home refrigerators and freezers that will improve their efficiency by about 25% by 2014. These new standards, developed through a consensus process with manufacturers, consumer groups, and environmentalists, are expected to deliver more than $200 in electricity bill savings for the typical consumer over the lifetime of the refrigerator. Nationally, consumers are expected to save more than $21 billion on their energy bills through 2043 as a result of the standards announced today.

"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."

"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. 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," said Joseph M. McGuire, president of the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers.

"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. We commend the Department for issuing this rule now and for following the consensus agreement."

These new consensus standards build on previous efficiency standards for refrigerators, which have successfully reduced energy use while promoting design innovation and new features for homeowners. Since the first standards were set in the 1970s, the energy needed to power home refrigerators has decreased by more than two-thirds, while at the same time, costs have come down, storage space has increased, and more features are available than ever before.

The efficiency standards issued today finalize the proposed consensus standards agreed to by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), more than 25 individual refrigerator manufacturers, and some of the nation's leading consumer and environmental advocacy groups. The standards will go into effect three years after publication in the Federal Register.

According to the Department's analysis, the standards announced today will ultimately save enough electricity each year to power 3.4 million homes, about the same number of homes in the entire state of Virginia. The standards will also avoid more than 340 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions over 30 years.

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 thirty household and commercial products, which are estimated to save consumers a total of $300 billion through 2030.

The standards are available on the Department of Energy website.

To see Secretary Chu discuss the broader benefits of appliance efficiency standards, check out this video on the U.S. Department of Energy website.

Learn more about the test procedures and minimum efficiency standards for residential appliances and commercial equipment developed by DOE's Appliances and Commercial Equipment Standards Program and other building technologies projects.