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November 13, 2006

Federal Energy Department to Require Improved Efficiency of Appliances

States achieve major energy conservation agreement with Feds

The federal Department of Energy (DOE) will set new standards to sharply increase the energy efficiency of many types of domestic appliances, such as home ranges and ovens, air conditioners and dishwashers, under a lawsuit settlement with states that was announced today.

Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller said the new standards were sought by a lawsuit against DOE brought by 15 states, the City of New York and three public interest groups. The states’ lawsuit alleged that the DOE had consistently failed to set the efficiency standards, despite direction by Congress in the 1980s to periodically update existing standards for a wide range of consumer products under specific deadlines. The suit alleged DOE is as much as 14 years late in developing standards for some products.

“The lawsuit sought a binding schedule for the overdue standards,” Miller said, “and that is what our settlement agreement provides. Here’s why that’s important: Better efficiency standards will save money for consumers, improve the environment, and reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil.”

The states argued that energy efficient appliances reduce air pollution, global warming, and other environmental problems associated with the generation of electricity – and save money for residential and commercial consumers. [Below: appliance list and schedule for standards.]

The lawsuit was filed in September 2005 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The settlement agreement was approved and signed by United States District Court Judge John E. Sprizzo of the Southern District of New York.

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Additional detail and information:

Product Category Deadline For DOE to Publish Final Rule
Room air conditioners June 2011
Central air conditioners and heat pumps June 2011
Water heaters March 2010
Pool heaters March 2010
Direct heating equipment March 2010
Furnaces and boilers September 2007
Dishwashers March 2009
Clothes dryers June 2011
Fluorescent lamp ballasts June 2011
Ranges and ovens March 2009
Additional lamps June 2009
Incandescent reflector lamps June 2009
Fluorescent lamps June 2009
Packaged air conditioners and heat pumps September 2008
Packaged boilers February 2007
Instantaneous water heaters February 2007
Medium-sized motors June 2011
High intensity discharge lamps June 2010
Electric distribution transformers September 2007
Small motors February 2010


According to DOE’s own estimates, the standards covered by the States/Federal agreement may reduce energy use by as much as 35 quadrillion BTUs over an approximately 30-year period. By comparison, all US households combined consumed 21 quadrillion BTUs of energy in 2004.

The standards also have the potential to significantly reduce greenhouse gases, and annual carbon dioxide emissions could be reduced by as much as 103 million metric tons a year. This is the equivalent of eliminating emissions from over 18 million cars and light trucks from America’s roads.

The New York Attorney General’s Office led the group of states. Attorneys General from the following states participated in the lawsuit: California, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin. Other parties in the case included the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the California Energy Commission, the City of New York, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Massachusetts Union of Public Housing Tenants and the Texas Ratepayers Organization to Save Energy.


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