Covered Product Category: Commercial Steam Cookers

ENERGY STAR Qualified Products

Updated March 2012

FEMP provides acquisition guidance across a variety of product categories, including commercial steam cookers, which are an ENERGY STAR®-qualified product category. Federal laws and executive orders mandate that agencies meet these efficiency requirements in all procurement and acquisition actions that are not specifically exempted by law.

Most manufacturers display the ENERGY STAR label on complying models. For a model not displaying this label, check the manufacturer's literature to determine if it meets the efficiency requirements outlined by ENERGY STAR.

This product category overview covers the following:

Energy Efficiency Requirements for Federal Purchases

For the most up-to-date efficiency levels required by ENERGY STAR, look for the ENERGY STAR label or visit the ENERGY STAR Product Specifications website. For more information, contact the FEMP point of contact listed at the bottom of this page.

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Save More Than $5,000 In Energy Costs When You Buy ENERGY STAR-Qualified Steam Cookers

FEMP has calculated1 that the required ENERGY STAR-qualified product is cost effective if priced no more than $5,430 above the less efficient alternative. The best available level saves the average user more money: $5,685. The complete cost effectiveness example and associated assumptions are provided in table 1 below.

Table 1. Lifetime Savings for Efficient Commercial Steam Cookersa
Performance ENERGY STAR Best Availableb ENERGY STAR Efficiency Levelc Less Efficientd
Cooking Energy Efficiency 69% 50% 30%
Idle Energy Rate 260 watts 400 watts 600 watts
Annual Energy Use 987 kWh 1,295 kWh 7,596 kWh
Annual Energy Cost $89 $117 $684
Lifetime Energy Cost (12 years) $850 $1,114 $6,535
Lifetime Energy Cost Savings $5,685 $5,430 ======

a More-efficient products may have been introduced to the market since this table was published.
b The Best Available level was determined based on the ENERGY STAR List of Qualified Products.
c Federal purchases must be of ENERGY STAR-qualified products that meet or exceed this ENERGY STAR Efficiency Level.
d The Less Efficient numbers represent low efficiency steam cookers that are commonly used in commercial kitchens.

Determining When ENERGY STAR Is Cost Effective

An efficient product is cost effective when the discounted savings (from avoided energy costs over the life of the product) exceed the additional up-front cost (if any) compared to a less efficient option. ENERGY STAR and FEMP consider up-front costs and lifetime energy savings when setting required efficiency levels so that Federal purchasers can assume that ENERGY STAR-qualified and products meeting FEMP-designated efficiency requirements are life-cycle cost effective. However, users wishing to determine cost effectiveness for their application may do so using the cost effectiveness example in table 1 or ENERGY STAR's commercial steam cooker energy and cost calculator.


Products meeting FEMP-designated efficiency requirements or ENERGY STAR performance specifications may not be life-cycle cost effective in certain low-use applications, such as when a device is being purchased for backup purposes and will remain in off mode for most of its useful life. For most other average or high-use applications, purchasers will find that energy-efficient products have the lowest life-cycle cost.

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Buying Energy-Efficient Commercial Steam Cookers

This product overview applies to pressurized and atmospheric (pressureless) commercial steam cookers (also known as steamers). Steam tables and kettle steamers are excluded. In the Federal sector these products are typically used in commercial food service operations like cafeteria and dining halls. When buying steam cookers through commercial sources, specify or select products that are ENERGY STAR-qualified. Most manufacturers display the ENERGY STAR logo on complying models, product packaging, or in the owner's manual. A list of qualified products is available from the ENERGY STAR website.

The Federal supply sources for commercial steam cookers are the General Services Administration (GSA) and Defense Logistics Agency (DLA). GSA sells steam cookers through its Multiple Awards Schedules program and online shopping network, GSA Advantage! DLA offers them through the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia and online through the Department of Defense (DoD) EMALL. Products sold through DLA are identified with a 13-digit National Stock Number (NSN) and, in some cases, a two-letter Environmental Attribute Code (ENAC).

These efficiency requirements apply to all forms of procurement, including guide and project specifications; construction, renovation, repair, energy service, and operation and maintenance (O&M) contracts; lease agreements; and solicitations for offers. Energy performance requirements should be included in all evaluations of solicitation responses. Buyers shall insert the standard clause from Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) section 52.223-15 into contracts and solicitations that deliver, acquire, furnish, or specify energy-consuming products for use in Federal facilities. Agencies can claim an exception to these requirements through a written finding that no ENERGY STAR-qualified or FEMP-designated product is life-cycle cost effective for a specific application.

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Buyer Tips

Features to look for when buying energy-efficient steam cookers include forced convection, vacuum pumps, closed systems, and compartmental insulation. Steam cookers idle approximately 75% of the time, so improved control strategies, such as standby mode, can save substantial amounts of energy and associated energy costs.

Connectionless steamers are equipped with a built-in reservoir that eliminates the need for a water supply and drain lines. Water is added and drained manually. The advantage of this design is that steam cannot escape (i.e., through the drain line) from the compartment. Although connectionless steamers are very efficient, they can increase cook times. If fast cook times are not essential, connectionless steamers are a good choice.

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User Tips: How to Use Products More Efficiently

Implement an equipment start-up/shut-down schedule. For multiple compartment steamers, turn off unused compartments during slow periods. As most steamers can be preheated within 20 minutes, secondary compartments can be turned off without significantly impacting food service operations.

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For More Information

The following resources provide additional information surrounding the purchase of efficient products:

Amanda Sahl
Federal Energy Management Program

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1 Based on the following assumptions: Assumes a standard open deep-fat electric fryer is used an average of 8 hours per day, 250 days per year; which is typical for cafeterias in Federal facilities that serve two meals per day. The performance of the Standard Model represents what is commonly used in commercial kitchens, while that of the Required Model meets the ENERGY STAR eligibility criteria. The performance of the Best Available model was obtained from the ENERGY STAR list of qualified products.

The annual energy use was calculated using ASTM F1361-07 and includes the preheat, active, and idle energy used to cook 100 pounds of food per day. The assumed rate for electricity is $0.09 per kilowatt-hour (kWh), the average at Federal facilities throughout the United States. Lifetime Energy Cost is the sum of the discounted values of Annual Energy Cost with an average commercial electric fryer life of 8 years. Future electricity price trends and a 3% discount rate are based on Federal guidelines (NISTIR 85-3273-26) and are from the Annual Supplement to NIST Handbook 135 and NBS Special Publication 709, "Energy Price Indices and Discount Factors for Life-Cycle Cost Analysis - 2011".