This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

August 08, 2007

DOE Announces New Criteria for Energy Star Refrigerators

DOE announced on August 3rd that it has increased the efficiency criteria for refrigerators with the Energy Star label. To qualify for the label, full-size refrigerators must be at least 20% more efficient than current federal energy efficiency standards, an increase from the current 15% minimum. The new criteria will go into effect on April 28th, 2008, and are expected to save U.S. families up to $23.5 million annually on their electric bills. The savings on electricity should offset any additional cost for Energy Star refrigerators within 3 to 5 years of the time of purchase. Freezers and compact refrigerators are not included in the new criteria. See the DOE press release, the current criteria for Energy Star refrigerators, and the new criteria.

Energy Star is a joint program of DOE and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which announced on July 31st that the program is launching new Energy Star labels for commercial dishwashers and ice machines. Energy Star-qualified commercial dishwashers will be, on average, 27% more energy efficient than standard models, while the ice machines will be 14% more energy efficient. Restaurant and commercial kitchen owners and operators will be able to purchase Energy Star-qualified commercial dishwashers starting on October 11th, while ice makers will be available at the beginning of 2008. Over the next five years, these new Energy Star products are expected to save restaurants $100 million in reduced energy and water costs. See the EPA press release, the new Energy Star criteria for dishwashers and ice machines, and the Energy Star Commercial Food Service Web page.

DOE is also considering setting new minimum efficiency standards for commercial refrigeration equipment. New standards will only be put in place if DOE determines that they would be technologically feasible and economically justified, and would result in significant energy savings. DOE is specifically considering new standards for commercial versions of ice-cream freezers; self-contained refrigerators, freezers, and refrigerator-freezers without doors; and remote-condensing refrigerators, freezers, and refrigerator-freezers. DOE will hold a public meeting on August 23rd and will accept public comments through October 9th. See the DOE's Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the July 26th edition of the Federal Register.