About Standards

We rely on our appliances every day to cook and refrigerate our food, clean our clothes, heat our water, and perform many other daily tasks. But most of us take our appliances and the energy and water they use for granted.

The operating cost of an appliance over its lifetime may be several times greater than its initial purchase price. Many consumers do not consider energy or water efficiency when making their purchases. But looking for an energy efficient model can save you money over the long run.

Congress passed laws setting initial federal energy efficiency standards and establishing schedules for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to review and revise these standards. Standards benefit consumers by requiring that appliance manufacturers reduce the energy and water use of their products—and thus the costs to operate them.

DOE conducts activities in three areas: labeling, test procedures, and mandatory energy conservation standards.


The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is required to prescribe labeling rules for residential appliances. DOE and FTC share responsibility for labeling commercial equipment.

Test Procedures

DOE outlines the test procedures that manufacturers must use to certify that their appliances meet standards. Test procedures measure the energy efficiency and energy use of each appliance and provide an estimate of its annual operating cost.

Mandatory Energy Conservation Standards

DOE establishes federal standards to keep consistent, national energy efficiency requirements for selected appliances and equipment. By law, DOE must upgrade standards to the maximum level of energy efficiency that is technically feasible and economically justified. DOE strives to establish standards that maximize consumer benefits and minimize negative impacts on manufacturers and others.