Energy Department Rule Would Help Prevent Cheating on Efficiency Standards

Contact: Ben Somberg, 202-658-8129, bsomberg@aceee.org

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The Biden administration today moved to prevent cheating on federal standards that save consumers money by ensuring their appliances and equipment, such as refrigerators and furnaces, do not guzzle energy. Its Department of Energy proposed a rule that would undo key provisions of a 2020 rule that opened the door for manufacturers to sell products that skirt efficiency standards.

“This is a good proposal and it’s important that the department finalize it soon to ensure consumers don’t unknowingly end up with energy-wasting products,” said Andrew deLaski, executive director of the Appliance Standards Awareness Project (ASAP). “The department is ensuring a fair playing field for all the manufacturers and that’s critical.”

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 the department 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 proposal, DOE would 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 complete application.

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