Appliance Makers Agree to Build Smarter, Energy-Sipping Products

Appliance Makers Agree to Build Smarter, Energy-Sipping Products

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Home appliance manufacturers agreed on Tuesday to new energy and water efficiency standards for washing machines, clothes dryers, refrigerators and dishwashers that will reduce the nation's utility bills by billions of dollars.

Over a 30-year period, the new minimum water and efficiency standards could save 5 trillion gallons of water and more than 9 quads of energy, according to analysis from the Department of Energy (DOE). The energy savings alone would meet the energy needs of 40 percent of homes in the U.S. for a year, the groups said. Consumers stand to gain nearly $30 billion through 2030.

The standards are the product of the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), which signed the Energy Efficient and Smart Appliance Agreement of 2010 (PDF) with several environmental and consumer groups, including the National Resources Defense Council and American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), among others. The signatories will now pitch the new standards to the DOE and Congress.

The agreement was also designed to complement emerging smart grid efforts, with a petition in the works calling for a 5 percent credit under the Energy Star program for smart grid-enabled appliances.

"This joint proposal will make the next generation of major home appliances the thriftiest ever when it comes to energy and water use," ACEEE Executive Director Steven Nadel said in a statement. "The resulting energy and water savings will cut bills for consumers by billions of dollars and reduce global warming emissions for decades to come."

The agreement would:

• Reduce new refrigerators' and freezers' energy use by up to 30 percent by 2014
• Reduce top loading clothes washers' energy use by 26 percent and water use by 16 percent by 2014, with additional savings in 2018
• Reduce dishwashers' energy use by 14 percent and water use by 23 percent in 2013
• Improve efficiency of clothes dryers by 5 percent in 2015
• Improve efficiency of room air conditioners by 10 percent to 15 percent in 2014

The agreement also calls for extending for three years an existing federal tax credit for the production of super-efficient appliances, such as clothes washers, dishwasher, refrigerators and freezers. Signatories also recommend that the DOE improve efficiency testing methods to better reflect real-world consumption of clothes dryers and refrigerators.

AHAM company members include AGA Marvel, Airwell Group, Alliance Laundry, Arcelik, Brown Stove, BSH, DeLonghi, Electrolux, Fagor America, Fisher & Paykel, Friedrich A/C, General Electric, Haier, Heat Controller, Indesit, Kelon, Kuppersbusch, LG Electronics, Miele, Samsung, Scotsman Ice, Sharp Electronics, Sub-Zero Wolf, U-Line, Viking Range, and Whirlpool.

In addition to the NRDC and ACEEE, the following groups signed the agreement: Appliance Standards Awareness Project, Alliance to Save Energy, Alliance for Water Efficiency, Northwest Power and Conservation Council, Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships, Consumer Federation of America, and National Consumer Law Center. 

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