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New Agreement Hopes to Advance Energy Efficiency 

August 10, 2010

Home appliance manufacturers and energy efficiency advocates recently agreed to improved efficiency standards and tax policies for refrigerators, freezers, washers and dryers, dishwashers and air conditioners. The proposal calls for new national minimum efficiency standards, production tax credits for super-efficient appliances and inclusion of “smart grid” readiness as a feature of future Energy Star qualified appliances.

“This joint proposal will make the next generation of major home appliances the thriftiest ever when it comes to energy and water use,” said Steven Nadel, executive director of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).  “The resulting energy and water savings will cut bills for consumers by billions of dollars and reduce global warming emissions for decades to come.”

“This agreement is an innovative approach to delivering substantial energy and water savings to the consumer through traditional energy and water standards and manufacturing incentives for super-efficient appliances, as well as new incentives for the deployment of smart appliances,” stated Joseph M. McGuire, president of the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM)

Appliance manufacturers and advocates will pursue adoption of these recommendations through the Department of Energy (DOE) and legislative action by Congress. Based on DOE analysis, the recommended standards and tax credits will save more than 9 quads of energy over 30 years, while the recommended water-efficiency standards and tax credits for clothes washers and dishwashers will save about 5 trillion gallons over 30 years. Global warming CO2 will be reduced by 550 million metric tons over the same time period. These reductions are equivalent to taking 100 million of today’s typical cars off the road for a year.

“Smart policies can deliver big savings to consumers and the environment,” said Ed Osann, senior policy analyst for Natural Resources Defense Council’s water program. “This agreement builds upon previous incentives to the industry to produce more efficient appliances, and now ensures that consumers will save billions in energy and water costs while reducing pollution that threatens the earth’s climate.”

"We’re pleased to be part of this agreement because it will mean lower energy and water bills for consumers,” said Mel Hall-Crawford, energy projects director at Consumer Federation of America. “For low- to moderate-income families, reducing energy costs is especially important since utility bills eat up a disproportionate share of their income.”

For a typical household, products just meeting the new standards would cut their total electric bill by about 6 percent relative to products just meeting the current standards.  Additional features of the agreement include:

•    Support for a three-year extension and update of an existing manufacturers' tax credit for the production of super-efficient clothes washers, dishwashers, refrigerators and freezers.  

•    A planned petition to the Energy Star program to provide a 5 percent credit to the required energy levels for smart appliances.

•    Recommendations that DOE improve test methods for dryers and refrigerators to better represent actual product energy use.  

Details on the agreement can be found here.
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