What If…

Antique Stove  What if there were no appliance standards?

  • Some appliances would use 2-3 times more energy than they do today;
  • You’d be paying about $500 more a year to power the appliances and lights in your home. 
  • There would be added strain on the power grid on hot summer days.
  • There would be even more greenhouse gases and other pollution in the air.

Absent standards, some innovation and efficiency gains would have occurred on their own but the pace of those gains would have been slower, and the improvement would have been available in fewer products sold. Appliance standards served as a catalyst for many of the energy efficiency gains we’ve seen over the last 40 years and spread those gains to the products consumers buy every day.

So, why haven’t I heard of appliance standards before?

Unlike the blue ENERGY STAR® label or the yellow EnergyGuide tag (which shows a product’s energy use compared to similar products), efficiency standards are usually invisible to consumers. Once a standard goes into effect, all products manufactured or imported for sale in the United States must meet the efficiency requirements. Over the last 40 years, Congress has passed several appliance standards laws, directly setting standards for some products and requiring the Department of Energy (DOE) to set and update standards for others. DOE and Congress together have set minimum efficiency standards for more than 60 residential, commercial, and lighting products.

Standards provide tangible benefits to consumers, businesses, and the nation as a whole. By 2030,  Accounting for products sold between 1987 and 2035 and for estimated product price increases, total net present value savings from national standards is $2.4 trillion for US consumers and businesses, or roughly enough to purchase about 70 million new cars.