Over the next three years, the U.S. Department of Energy will set new efficiency standards for more than a dozen categories of home and commercial appliances. Adopting strong standards for all of them—standards achievable with existing technology—would cut emissions of more than 126 million metric tons of global warming gases each year by 2030, equivalent to eliminating the emissions from 50 power plants, while saving consumers $19 billion a year.
Earthjustice is helping to lead the push to make efficiency the foundation of our nation's clean energy future:
- We're conducting legal advocacy at DOE and in court to ensure that the department adopts the best possible efficiency standards. We've filed comments analyzing the potential savings for 18 different types of appliances including fluorescent lighting, incandescent reflector lamps, air conditioners and heat pumps, refrigerators and freezers, and water heaters. We've also gone to court to challenge DOE's proposed standards for commercial air conditioners and heat pumps, residential furnaces and electricity distribution transformers.
- In late March 2010, DOE decided on new standards for residential water heaters that delivered huge dollar savings to Americans and significantly boosted national efforts to combat climate change. The new standards will save American households $8.7 billion over the next 30 years; they'll save 2.6 quads of energy, which is enough to meet the total needs of about 13 million typical U.S. households for one year; and they'll cut carbon pollution by 154 million metric tons, an amount equal to the typical annual emissions of 30 million cars.
- On June 30, 2009, after Earthjustice pushed for strong standards on fluorescent light tubes, the president announced new standards for this type of lighting that will save enough energy annually to power all U.S. homes for almost a year, while saving consumers $1 billion to $4 billion a year in utility bills.
- In 2008, the Bush administration's DOE proposed efficiency standards for incandescent reflector lamps—cone-shaped bulbs typically installed in recessed ceiling fixtures or track lighting. However, the Bush administration argued that it did not have the legal authority to issue standards for certain types of reflector lamps, leaving the most common lamp of this type outside of the scope of federal standards. Earthjustice and our allies repeatedly explained to the Department why the Bush team's legal view was incorrect and stressed that these additional types of incandescent reflector lamps need to be covered under federal standards to close an otherwise gaping loophole—and with success: The Obama administration has adopted the legal interpretation that we advanced and has pledged to issue standards for these common types of incandescent reflector lamps. The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy has estimated that strong standards for these previously exempted lamps could reduce CO2 emissions by 2.3 million metric tons annually by 2020—almost as much CO2 as a typical coal-fired power plant emits in a year.
- Earthjustice is also working with Congress on legislation to adopt new laws requiring strong appliance efficiency standards, renewable energy standards and energy-efficient building codes—and to include strong provisions for enforcing these standards.
- We have served notice calling on DOE and the General Services Administration to correct failures by the Bush administration to comply with legal mandates to upgrade energy efficiency in federal buildings—among the biggest energy users in the nation.
|Key Upcoming Efficiency Standards
||Proposed rule expected
||Final rule due
||Estimated annual energy consumption1
||Potential CO2 savings by 20302
||Potential cost savings by 20302
Central AC & heat pumps
DOE, Buildings Energy Data Book (Sept. 2008). Total residential energy consumption was 20.83 Quads in 2006. Btu: British Thermal Unit, a standard measurement of energy. 1 kilowatt-hour equals 3413 Btus.
American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, http://www.aceee.org
Reduced from source data to exclude window AC units. Does not include heat pump energy consumption.
Does not include hot water energy consumption.