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

July 03, 2013

EPA Strengthens Energy Star Requirements for Refrigerators and Freezers

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on June 27 that it has revised its Energy Star requirements for residential refrigerators and freezers. The updated requirements raise the bar for energy efficiency in these products and, for the first time, encourage manufacturers to include optional "connected" features. These features would offer consumers more ways to reduce the energy consumption of their refrigerators and freezers, help lower their utility bills, and better protect the environment and the climate.

Under the new standards, Energy Star-certified refrigerators and freezers will use at least 10% less energy than models meeting 2014 federal minimum efficiency standards. If all refrigerators and freezers sold in the United States were to meet the updated requirements, the energy cost savings would grow to more than $890 million each year while reducing annual greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of taking more than one million vehicles off the road. By recycling an old refrigerator and replacing it with a new Energy Star-certified refrigerator, consumers can save from $150–$1,100 on energy costs over the product's lifetime. To earn the Energy Star label, product performance must be certified by an EPA-recognized third party, based on testing in an EPA-recognized laboratory. The updated Energy Star refrigerator and freezer specification will go into effect on September 15, 2014.

Certain Energy Star refrigerators and freezers with connected features will provide consumers new convenience and energy-saving opportunities. These products will allow consumers to view real-time energy use, receive energy-related messages—such as an alert when the door has been left open—and manage appliance settings remotely. Refrigerators and freezers with connected functionality will also be "smart grid"-ready, meaning that with consumer permission, they will be able to respond to utility signals, including curtailing operations during more expensive peak demand times. See the EPA press release and the Energy Star's new specification for residential refrigerators and freezers.