This spring and summer, DOE ordered several civil penalties for companies that sold products that did not meet federal standards. Among the eleven enforcement actions published by DOE this year, five were related to air conditioning products, three handled water heating products, and the remaining three addressed a distribution transformer model from Eaton, a freezer from Whirlpool, and a commercial refrigerator model from Imbera.
Rheem received the largest civil penalty for skirting air conditioner standards. DOE ordered it to pay $108,188 for manufacturing and distributing 344 non-compliant commercial package air conditioner units.
The three largest water heater manufacturers in the US—A.O. Smith, Rheem, and Bradford White—were also fined for selling non-compliant water heater models. A.O. Smith sold more than 15,000 water heaters that failed to meet standards, and DOE fined the company nearly $2.2 million. Rheem and Bradford White received smaller fines of $687,000 and $81,149, respectively.
With little good news about appliance standards during the current administration, DOE’s active enforcement of the law has proven to be one bright spot. Active enforcement helps ensure that consumers and the nation get the savings expected from current standards and that manufacturers that play by the rules are not undercut by their competitors. Complaints are a prime source of information that can help DOE identify potential non-compliance problems. Information on how to file a complaint is available on DOE’s website.