BOSTON, MA and WASHINGTON, D.C. — From light bulbs to office water coolers to DVD players, new appliance energy efficiency standards could save consumers and businesses billions of dollars, ease pressure on high energy prices, eliminate the need for as many as 40 power plants, and cut global warming pollution, according to a report released today by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) and the Appliance Standards Awareness Project (ASAP).
“Advances in technology keep yielding opportunities to cut energy waste,” said Steven Nadel, Executive Director of ACEEE and lead author of the report. “Standards that improve the energy efficiency of common consumer products and commercial equipment are a cornerstone of a sensible energy policy, for a state or for the nation.”
Since 2004, ten states (Arizona, California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington) have established new energy-saving standards covering between five and thirty products, most through new state legislation. In August, 2005, Congress took its cue from the states and made 15 of these state standards federal law. For the new report, the authors looked beyond those products addressed by Congress in 2005 and found another 15 products for which near-term state standards make sense. Most of these newly recommended standards have already been adopted in one or more states.
“The states are ‘leading the way’ when it comes to energy-saving standards,” said Andrew deLaski, Executive Director of ASAP and co-author of the report, referring to the new report’s title. “With consumers and businesses getting hammered by high energy prices and persistent worries about our nation’s addiction to imported energy, state policymakers are looking to energy efficiency. It’s the cheapest, fastest, and safest way to meet our energy needs.”
By lowering natural gas use, the standards could help lead to lower natural gas prices. In a separate 2005 study, ACEEE found that a 2 to 4% reduction in natural gas use can reduce natural gas prices by 20% or more in tight market conditions. The recommended appliance efficiency standards would start saving natural gas immediately, with savings levels growing to 340 billion cubic feet per year by 2020, about 1.3% of U.S. Department of Energy’s projected national consumption for that year.
“Energy efficiency is the best thing we can do to address growing concerns about global warming and energy security,” said Rob Sargent, Senior Energy Policy Analyst with the National Association of State PIRGs, which represents state-based public interest and environmental groups around the country. “State officials should be commended for leading the charge on these sensible energy efficiency standards that save money, cut pollution, and help wean us from imported energy sources.”
According to the report, if adopted nationally, the natural gas savings from the new standards would be enough to heat 6.3 million typical U.S. households. Electricity savings would reach 52 billion kilowatt hours per year by 2020, an amount equivalent to 2% of projected 2020 commercial and residential electricity use. Savings from the standards would eliminate the need for about 40 average-sized power plants by 2020 and cut global warming carbon pollution by 12 million metric tons annually, equal to the emissions of 12 million typical cars. Altogether, purchasers of affected products would net more than $50 billion in savings over about twenty years.
Products for which the report recommends state efficiency standards include: bottle-type water dispensers; DVD players, certain audio products, and external power supplies for electronics (a.k.a., “energy vampires”); reflector light bulbs and certain commercial light fixtures; swimming pool pumps and heaters; hot tubs; and walk-in refrigerators. Strong state standards for home furnaces and boilers, a product covered by an out-of-date federal standard, would yield the biggest savings. The new report provides details on each of the products for which new state standards make sense.
According to deLaski, standards are a “proven successful” way to curtail energy waste. New standards can be set at the state or federal level, but states have nearly always acted first. States first set appliance and equipment efficiency standards in the 1970s and 1980s, leading eventually to federal standards for more than two dozen products. Based on U.S. Department of Energy data, these already existing standards, which cover products ranging from home refrigerators to commercial air conditioners, will cut U.S. electricity use by nearly 8% by 2020.
The report relied on clear criteria for selecting recommended standards. Each recommended standard would result in significant energy savings and be very cost-effective (i.e., purchasers of the affected products would earn back any incremental cost to improve efficiency within one to three years for most products). In addition, products meeting the recommended standards are readily available today from multiple manufacturers and existing technical standards ease state implementation of such standards.
Leading the Way: Continued Opportunities for New State Appliance and Equipment Efficiency Standards is available for free download at www.aceee.org/pubs/a062.htm or a hard copy can be purchased for $45 plus $5 postage and handling. An online appendix of state-by-state impact data can be found on the ASAP Web site at www.standardsASAP.org. For more information, contact ACEEE Publications, 529 14th St, N.W., Suite 600, Washington, D.C. 20045, 202-507-4000 phone, 202-429-2248 fax, email@example.com.