Energy-Efficiency Standards

Energy efficiency standards make it easier for consumers to buy the right home appliances and equipment. This guide will help you understand the purpose of the DOE Energy-Efficiency Standards.

Energy-efficiency standards for buildings help reduce the amount of energy used by building owners and their tenants and greenhouse gas emissions. They are enforced through various mechanisms, including setting targets that apply to all new and existing buildings or enforcing certifications for certain building components.  The United States Department of Energy (DOE) sets and enforces energy efficiency standards for residential, commercial, and industrial products. These standards prohibit the production, import, or sale of less efficient products than minimum requirements.

DOE energy-efficiency standards
Energy-Efficiency Standards 1


In the United States, ENERGY STAR is a program that helps businesses and individuals save energy and money by promoting efficient building products and practices. These programs include standards and testing procedures, as well as a program allowing consumers to compare different products to determine which is most energy-efficient. These standards also provide guidance for a variety of building components, such as HVAC systems and windows. They are designed to help buildings meet a minimum level of performance, which helps to increase the number of buildings that receive ENERGY STAR certification.

In addition to the requirements of these standards, there are a number of other tools that can help reduce energy use in buildings and help agencies meet their Federal energy efficiency requirements. These resources include software, calculators, and data sets that can be used by agencies to help them reduce energy usage. ENERGY STAR is an EPA program that encourages businesses and individuals to use energy-efficient products. Its requirements are based on research and are designed to help businesses, consumers, and government agencies save energy and money.

This rule updates the baseline Federal energy efficiency standard for new low-rise residential buildings to the IECC 2021. This update will save Federal agencies and Architects of the Capitol money by increasing the energy efficiency of new buildings. This rule will decrease the annual energy usage of about 9.78 million square feet of Federal low-rise construction, which represents approximately 0.65 percent of the anticipated annual construction in 2022.

DOE energy-efficiency standards
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DOE energy-efficiency standards

 Currently, the US Department of Energy (DOE) sets energy-efficiency standards for more than 60 categories of appliances and equipment, representing about 90 percent of residential and 30 percent of commercial and industrial energy use. The efficiency standards are a key tool for increasing the use of highly efficient products and buildings while saving consumers billions of dollars in energy costs over time.

The process DOE uses to set and update standards is effective and has delivered massive consumer energy savings for years. This process involves regular reviews and updates of the standards based on technological progress, economics, and consumer interest. In addition, DOE establishes test procedures for manufacturers that allow them to certify that their products meet standards. These tests are critical for ensuring that manufacturers produce products that achieve maximum energy savings and are safe for use in the home.

These standards and test procedures are published in a predictable timeline, which helps manufacturers launch their products efficiently. Moreover, DOE reviews its approved testing procedures every seven years, and standards are reviewed every six years to maintain consistency with the pace of technology development. But the latest DOE proposal aims to change the process by which it sets standards for covered products under EPCA. Among other changes, it would make it more difficult for DOE to create standards and test procedures that deliver impactful and meaningful energy savings for consumers.

The changes to the Process Rule could also make it more difficult for the department to complete standards in the six-year window required by EPCA. Moreover, they would put at risk the millions of dollars in energy savings that the efficiency standards program has produced over the past two decades.

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