Electric motors convert electrical energy into mechanical energy. The DOE standards cover polyphase induction motors between 1 and 500 horsepower (with some exceptions such as submersible or liquid-cooled electric motors). Typical uses for electric motors covered by the new standards include pumps, fans, blowers, conveyors, and compressors. Specific examples include gear motors used in equipment like escalators, and vertical pump motors used in irrigation and in many municipal water and wastewater systems.
EPACT 1992 established the first federal energy conservation standards for certain commercial and industrial electric motors. EISA 2007 amended the electric motor standards and expanded the scope of covered motors. The EISA standards, which became effective in December 2010, required that general purpose electric motors and fire pump motors meet the “Premium” efficiency levels established by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), the industry trade group.
In May 2014, DOE set new standards, expanding the scope of coverage to many motor types not previously regulated. DOE based the new standards on a joint recommendation filed in 2012 by motor manufacturers and efficiency proponents. Establishing these standards for previously unregulated motors will save about 3 to 8% per unit, depending on motor type and size. On a national level, the standards are expected to reduce electricity consumption by about 800 billion kilowatt-hours over thirty years of sales (roughly enough electricity to meet the needs of 80 million U.S. households for a year), making this one of the biggest energy savers in DOE history. Over the same period, the standards will net businesses and industry up to $28 billion in utility bill savings and will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 395 million metric tons, equivalent to the emissions of more than 80 million cars for one year.
The new standards went into effect in May 2016.
Technology options for meeting the standard include improved bearings, a more efficient cooling system, improved grades of electrical steel, and using thinner steel laminations. Electric motors account for approximately half of all electricity consumption in industrial applications. About 6 million 1-500 horsepower electric motors are shipped annually.