It was a big year for appliance and equipment energy efficiency standards, with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) releasing 11 new or updated standards in 2016, ranging from battery chargers and pool pumps to ceiling fans and portable air conditioners. Together, these new standards will save consumers nearly $75 billion on their utility bills and avoid the need to generate 1.4 trillion kilowatt-hours of electricity over the next 30 years of shipments—more than all of the electricity used in U.S. homes in a year.
In addition, these standards will avoid nearly 800 million metric tons of climate-warming carbon pollution emissions. That’s equivalent to the amount of carbon emitted in a year from 233 coal-fired power plants.
DOE has been setting energy efficiency standards for appliances and equipment since 1987, when President Reagan signed the bipartisan enabling legislation into law. Every standard released in 2016 was the culmination of a multi-year process run by the Energy Department, which took into account comments and feedback from industry, energy efficiency supporters, national labs, and the general public. Standards tend to be performance-based, which means manufacturers have complete leeway to design their product any way they want, as long as it meets the specified target for its energy use. Manufacturers are able to innovate in ways that are best for their businesses and best for consumers.