Refrigerators, refrigerator-freezers, and freezers are major household appliances, accounting for about 11% of national residential electricity consumption.
Residential refrigerators and freezers manufactured and distributed in commerce on or after July 1, 2001 until September 15, 2014 must meet the energy conservation standards specified in the Code of Federal Regulations, 10 CFR 430.32(a).
On September 15, 2011, amended standards were issued for residential refrigerators and freezers. On September 15, 2014, these amended standards will establish new energy conservation standards for residential refrigerators and freezers.The full text of the amended standard is available in the Code of Federal Regulations, 10 CFR 430.32(a).
On February 23, 2012, DOE published a notice of public meeting regarding energy conservation standards for residential wine chillers and other residential refrigeration products.
Efficiency Standards History: LBNL's Energy Efficiency Standards (EES) group has performed technical and economic analyses of this product for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) since 1979. These analyses formed the bases of the efficiency standards established by DOE in 1989 and 1997 (which became effective in 1993 and 2001, respectively). Refrigerator-freezers manufactured after July 2001 typically consume about 30% less energy than the maximum energy use allowed under the 1993 efficiency regulations.
The Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA) of 1975 established an energy conservation program for major household appliances. The National Energy Conservation Policy Act of 1978 (NECPA) amended EPCA to establish an energy conservation program for certain industrial equipment. Additional amendments to EPCA have given DOE the authority to regulate the energy efficiency of many products, including residential refrigerators, refrigerator-freezers, and freezers. The amendments to EPCA in the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act of 1987 (NAECA) established energy conservation standards for refrigerators, refrigerator-freezers, and freezers, as well as requirements for determining whether these standards should be amended.
NAECA first established national performance standards for residential refrigerators, refrigerator-freezers, and freezers and further required that DOE conduct two cycles of rulemakings to determine if more stringent standards are justified. On November 17, 1989, DOE published a final rule in the Federal Register (FR) updating the performance standards; the new standards became effective on January 1, 1993. Subsequent to this final rule, DOE determined that new standards for some of the product classes were based on incomplete data and incorrect analysis. As a result, DOE published a correction that amended the new standards for the following three product classes: (1) refrigerators and refrigerator-freezers with manual defrost; (2) refrigerator-freezers-automatic defrost with: bottom-mounted freezer without through-the-door (TTD) ice service; and (3) chest freezers and all other freezers. DOE updated the performance standards once again for refrigerators, refrigerator-freezers, and freezers by publishing a final rule in the Federal Register on April 28, 1997. The new standards became effective on July 1, 2001. The standards were expected to yield 6.67 quadrillion Btus (quads) of energy savings by the year 2030. By completing a second standards rulemaking, DOE had fulfilled its legislative requirement to conduct two cycles of standards rulemakings. Stakeholders submitted a petition in 2004 requesting that DOE conduct another rulemaking to amend the standards for residential refrigerator-freezers. In April 2005, DOE granted the petition and conducted a limited set of analyses to assess the energy savings and economic benefit potential of new standards. DOE issued a report in October 2005 detailing the analyses, for which EES performed life-cycle cost and payback period and national impact analyses. The analysis examined the technological and economic feasibility of new standards set at ENERGY STAR levels, effective in 2005, for the two most popular product classes of refrigerators: top-mount refrigerator-freezers without TTD features and side-mounted refrigerator-freezers with TTD features. Because these two product classes accounted for a majority of product shipments, DOE confined its updated analysis to these two classes. Depending on assumptions regarding the impact that standards would have on market efficiency, amended standards at the 2005 ENERGY STAR levels were estimated to yield between 2.4 to 3.4 quads from 2005 to 2030, with an associated economic impact to the Nation ranging from a burden or cost of $1.2 billion to a benefit or savings of $3.3 billion (based on a discount rate of 7 percent real). The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA 2007), signed into law on December 19, 2007, requires that DOE publish a final rule no later than December 31, 2010, to determine whether to amend the standards in effect for refrigerators, refrigerator-freezers, and freezers manufactured on or after January 1, 2014.
The final rule for the current (2001) standard can be found on DOE's refrigerators and freezers rulemaking website. The details of the engineering, economic, environmental and utility analyses behind this latest refrigerator rulemaking can be found in the technical support document. A synopsis of the engineering analysis for this rulemaking can be found in the Cost-Efficiency Analysis in Support of the Energy Conservation Standards for Refrigerator/Freezers, also authored by EES.