Water Dispensers


Water dispensers (or water coolers) are commonly used in both homes and offices to store and dispense drinking water. Water dispensers 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 dispensers. 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, lowered the maximum standby energy use for “hot and cold” units to 0.87 kWh/day. Colorado, Vermont, and Washington adopted standards equivalent to Version 2.0 in 2018 and 2019.


"Hot and cold" water dispensers tend to use much more energy than "cold only" dispensers because they must maintain water tanks at two temperatures in a small space. According to EPA, ENERGY STAR certified water dispensers use about 30% less energy than conventional models. The energy use of water dispensers can be reduced by improving the separation of hot and cold water, adding more insulation between the tanks, and improving the chilling mechanisms.


Federal Date States
2021 WA Standard Effective
2021 CO Standard Effective
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.