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Presenting a New (and Cool) Appliance Efficiency Standard

September 29, 2010 - 5:24pm

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Secretary Chu recently announced a proposed new energy efficiency standard that could help save energy, money and your food – a proposed appliance standard for residential refrigerators, refrigerator-freezers and freezers that could save consumers as much as $18.6 billion over thirty years.

Along with appliance efficiency standards, refrigerators have advanced a lot over the past 40 years. Small, simple iceboxes have been replaced with larger cooling apparatuses with compartments for everything from your cheese to your condiments and features galore. The improvements not only make your life more convenient but have slashed energy use -- requiring one-third the electricity consumption of refrigerators in the 1970s. With the proposed standard, the energy use of most refrigerator-freezers will decrease by another 20-25 percent by 2014.

According to Secretary Chu, “These standards will help us once again dramatically reduce the energy used by refrigerators in American homes. As technologies continue to improve to meet these latest standards, we’ll help to address climate change while saving families across the country billions of dollars.”

In fact, the proposed standards could save nearly 4.5 quadrillion BTUs over 30 years, the equivalent of three times the amount of energy used in refrigerators and freezers in American homes in one year. The new standards would also eliminate the need for up to 4.2 gigawatts of generating capacity by 2043 – the equivalent to 8-9 coal-fired power plants nationwide – and the savings would reduce cumulative carbon dioxide emissions by 305 million metric tons between 2014 and 2043.

Since January 2009, the Department has finalized new efficiency standards for more than twenty household and commercial products, which will cumulatively save consumers between $250 billion and $300 billion through 2030. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for energy conservation standards for residential refrigerators, refrigerator-freezers and freezers has now been submitted for public comment and the new standard is expected to go into effect in January 2014.

Liz Meckes is a New Media Specialist with the Office of Public Affairs

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