Energy Department Finalizes Rule to Help Prevent Cheating on Efficiency Standards


Contact: Ben Somberg, 202-658-8129,

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Washington, DC—The Department of Energy (DOE) today restored procedures to help prevent manufacturers from producing appliances that do not comply with federal efficiency standards. In a final rule, the DOE undid a key provision of a Trump-era action that opened the door for manufacturers to sell products that skirt the standards and cause needless energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions.

“This helps ensure that all manufacturers’ products are as efficient as they’re required to be and no company can game the system. It’s restoring a transparent and predictable procedure for ensuring all products are tested fairly and can compete on a level playing field,” said Andrew deLaski, executive director of the Appliance Standards Awareness Project. “This is a good step forward for the department, and it has several more of these rollbacks and roadblocks to undo before an end-of-the-year deadline.”

At issue are uniform test procedures that provide the foundation for federal appliance standards, ensuring compliance and a level, competitive playing field for manufacturers. The previous administration finalized a rule last year that opened the door for abuse of the process. That rule said that DOE would automatically grant a manufacturer’s application for an interim test procedure waiver if it had not acted on a request within 45 business days of receipt. This meant that, in some cases, a manufacturer could effectively set its own test procedure for evaluating whether its product complied with efficiency standards.

Under the new final rule, DOE will revert to its previous practice of reviewing all test procedure interim waiver applications to ensure they comply with the legal requirement that tests are representative of actual energy or water use or efficiency. DOE will make its best efforts to respond within 90 days of a completed application.

DOE still needs to finalize a proposal to undo a rule that effectively blocks the department from setting strong standards for gas furnaces, water heaters, and boilers in homes and commercial buildings, as well as a second rule undoing Trump-era process hurdles (it recently finalized a rule undoing several of these hurdles). And it needs to take final action to undo Trump-era rollbacks on standards for light bulbs, clothes washers and dryers, dishwashers, and showerheads.

President Biden directed agencies in a January 20 executive order to identify Trump-era actions that merited “suspending, revising, or rescinding,” and to complete action doing so by the end of 2021. DOE identified each of the Trump rollbacks and roadblocks in its memo.