Water Coolers


Water coolers (or water dispensers) are commonly used in both homes and offices to store and dispense drinking water. Water coolers include “hot and cold” units, which dispense both hot and cold water, and “cold only” units, which dispense cold water only.


There are currently no national efficiency standards for water coolers. Seven states (California, Connecticut, Maryland, New Hampshire, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington) and the District of Columbia adopted standards for "hot and cold" dispensers in the mid-2000s. The state standards are equivalent to the ENERGY STAR Version 1.3 specification for water dispensers, which specified a maximum standby energy use of 1.2 kWh per day. The standby energy use (or “on mode with no water draw”) refers to the energy consumed when the unit is on but no water is being drawn. The ENERGY STAR specification also contained a maximum standby energy use limit for “cold only” units of 0.16 kWh/day.

A new ENERGY STAR specification which took effect in 2014 set the maximum standby energy use to 0.87 kWh/day for “hot and cold” storage units and 0.18 kWh/day for on demand hot and cold units. Colorado, the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington adopted standards equivalent to Version 2.0.


"Hot and cold" water coolers tend to use much more energy than "cold only" water coolers because they must maintain water tanks at two temperatures in a small space. According to EPA, ENERGY STAR certified water coolers use about 30% less energy than conventional models. The energy use of water coolers can be reduced by improving the separation of hot and cold water, adding more insulation between the tanks, and improving the chilling mechanisms. ASAP estimates that about 58% of all water cooler models on the U.S. market meet the standards. 


Federal Date States
2024 MD Standard Effective
2023 NV Standard Effective
2023 ME Standard Effective
2023 RI Standard Effective
2022 MD Standard Adopted
2022 DC Standard Effective
2022 MA Standard Effective
2022 OR Standard Effective
2022 NJ Standard Effective
2021 ME Standard Adopted
2021 RI Standard Adopted
2021 OR Standard Adopted
2021 NV Standard Adopted
2021 MA Standard Adopted
2021 NJ Standard Adopted
2021 WA Standard Effective
2021 CO Standard Effective
2020 DC Standard Adopted
2020 VT Standard Effective
2019 WA Standard Adopted
2019 CO Standard Adopted
2018 VT Standard Adopted
2010 WA Standard Effective
2009 OR Standard Effective
2009 WA Standard Adopted
2009 DC Standard Effective
2009 NH Standard Effective
2009 MD Standard Effective
2009 CT Standard Effective
2008 NH Standard Adopted
2008 RI Standard Effective
2007 DC Standard Adopted
2007 MD Standard Adopted
2007 OR Standard Adopted
2007 CT Standard Adopted
2006 RI Standard Adopted
2006 CA Standard Effective
2004 CA Standard Adopted

Timeline reflects state standards from 2001 to present; federal standards from inception to present.