Updated Fed Appliance Standards Save Billions While Cutting Energy


The Department of Energy was asleep at the wheel, but  tough new national appliance standards for 26 common household and business products during President Obama’s term could slash total U.S. electricity use by over 1,900 terawatt hours (1.9 trillion kilowatt hours) by 2030.

The savings to the consumers and businesses: Over $123 billion.

This was the findings of a report released by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) and the Appliance Standards Awareness Project (ASAP). It  figures the standards will make a huge contribution to our efforts to cut global warming pollution by eliminating 158 million tons per year by 2030, roughly the amount emitted by 63 large conventional coal-fired power plants.

It’s a win-win situation when the feds  commit to working with makers of water heaters, home furnaces and refrigerators to cut emissions and return money to the American taxpayer.

In the report, called Ka-BOOM, U.S. electricity use in 2,000 saw a 2.5% reduction due to existing standards, before all the power players were on board.

By 2010, the savings will grow to a projected 7% reduction and a 12% reduction by 2030. The authors say even greater gains could have been met had the DOE met the legal deadlines for updated standards that passed without any action between 1994 and 2004.

Here are some of the numbers highlighted by Grist:

  • Over 1,900 terawatt-hours saved by 2030, or roughly enough power to meet the total electricity needs of every American household for 18 months.
  • About 65,000 megawatts of peak demand savings in 2030, or around 6 percent of total U.S. generating capacity projected for 2030.
  • About $123 billion in net present value benefits from products purchased through 2030.
  • 158 million metric tons of carbon dioxide avoided in 2030, or 2.6 percent of total U.S. projected emissions in that year-equivalent to taking 30 million cars off the road.
  • Existing standards have saved every household $2,800 dollars and standards set in the next few years will save an additional $1,100.

The Obama administration has put energy standards as the top priority of its energy plan. The President’s memorandum, combined with court orders and Congressional deadlines, require that the DOE complete new standards for 26 products by 2013.

Among the products targeted are pool heaters, incandescent reflector lamps, refrigerated vending machines, residential water heaters, furnace fans, battery chargers, commercial clothes washers and walk-in coolers and freezers.

Why are standards so crucial? The benefits are huge for the nation in terms of lowering bills, reducing greenhouse emissions and other pollutants, lowering peak electric demand levels and reducing the strain on the electric grid. Plus, it minimizes the need to build new costly power plants and alleviates the pressure on overall energy prices.

Image: pasukaru76

Luanne Bradley

Luanne Sanders Bradley is the West coast Editor at EcoSalon and currently resides in San Francisco, California.