Manufacturers and efficiency advocates reach agreement on first-ever standards for wine chillers

Posted on January 20, 2016 by
Joanna Mauer

Today, the Appliance Standards Rulemaking and Federal Advisory Committee (ASRAC) approved an agreement reached by manufacturers and efficiency advocates to set the first-ever national standards for wine chillers and other beverage coolers. The new standards will reduce energy use by 75% relative to the least-efficient products on the market.

The new standards cover beverage coolers including wine chillers and others (collectively “coolers”), as well as a smaller category of products referred to as “combination cooler refrigeration products,” which combine a refrigerator and/or freezer compartment with a wine storage compartment.

The Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that about 1.5 million coolers are purchased annually. There is huge potential for improving the efficiency of coolers, with the most-efficient products on the market using almost 10 times less energy than the least efficient.

According to DOE, the new standards will save an average consumer about $300 over the life of a cooler. On a national level, the new standards will reduce electricity consumption by 160 billion kilowatt-hours over 30 years of sales, which is equivalent to the annual electricity use of about 15 million US households, and yield savings of $4-10 billion for consumers.

Unlike conventional refrigerators, where four rounds of national standards have taken effect following multiple California standards, reducing average energy use by 75% since 1972, national standards have never been adopted for coolers. California does have standards for wine chillers, which were last updated in 2002. The new standards for coolers represent savings of 30% relative to the California standards.

Members of the ASRAC working group which negotiated the new standards included industry representatives, such as the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), GE, Haier, Sub-Zero, U-Line, and Whirlpool, and efficiency advocates, including the Appliance Standards Awareness Project, Earthjustice, and the California Investor-Owned Utilities.

The agreement on new standards for coolers follows on the heels of other recent successful negotiated rulemakings including rulemakings for commercial rooftop air conditioners, pumps, and walk-in coolers and freezers. The standards for commercial rooftop air conditioners will save more energy than any rule ever issued by DOE.

DOE is scheduled to finalize the new standards later this year.