Energy Star to add two-step testing for fridges and freezers

By Sabine Lobnig, Mar 23, 2010, 12:51 2 minute reading

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) are planning to strengthen the trusted Energy Star programme by introducing third-party testing and two-step test processes for Energy Star labeled products.

To further enforce and strengthen the Energy Star programme,the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) have launched a two-step process to expand testing of Energy Star qualified products, in six of the most common product types: freezers, refrigerator-freezers, clothes washers, dishwashers, water heaters and room air conditioners. Together, these account for 25% of energy consumption in an average household. In this vein, DOE will test approximately 200 basic models at third-party, independent test laboratories over the next few months.

The two institutions are also developing an expanded system that will require all products applying for the label to be tested in approved labs and require manufacturers to participate in an ongoing verification testing program that will ensure continued compliance.

And EPA and DOE do take compliance seriously. In the last 4 months alone, they have taken action against 35 manufacturers and do not hesitate to revoke the Energy Star label as they did for example with 20 LG refrigerator-freezer models that multiple independent labs confirmed were consuming more energy than allowed under the Energy Star criteria.

New Energy Star test procedures – new opportunities for HCs in the future?

The American Energy Star programme has been successful so far: people like it and feel confident in products that carry the little star. In 2009, The Energy Star helped save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from 30 million cars as well as save nearly $17 billion on utility bills. More than 40,000 individual products carry the Energy Star label and compliance is high, especially as non-compliance gets great media attention and can end in considerable economic damage for a manufacturer.

However, recently the Energy Star programme had come under criticism for not being ambitious enough and not aligning itself to the reality of technological progress and best-performing units. The recent move, together with stricter compliance, might be a step in the right direction.

Once hydrocarbons – currently banned in the USA as the last major world market but in the process of being considered as a valid alternative to hydrofluorocarbons in domestic refrigerators and light-commercial units - are approved as refrigerant in the United States, fridges and freezers using them will benefit from their high energy-efficiency and extremely low global warming potential (GWP) to easier fulfill the requirements for being accorded the Energy Star label.

The Energy Star

The Energy Star programme helps consumers identify the products that are highly energy efficient and will save them money on utility costs, while DOE’s minimum appliance efficiency standards apply to all appliances and set a baseline energy efficiency levels for appliances. 


By Sabine Lobnig

Mar 23, 2010, 12:51

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