U.S. agrees to write new appliance efficiency standards

New Hampshire, 13 other states and several consumer and environmental groups have reached an agreement with the Department of Energy calling for updated efficiency standards for a wide variety of common appliances.

Under the deal – which ends a 2005 lawsuit — the federal agency has agreed to boost energy-efficiency requirements for nearly two dozen household appliances and equipment, from dishwashers to fluorescent lamps.

“This settlement is an important victory for this state’s consumers and environment,” said New Hampshire Attorney General Kelly Ayotte.

Ayotte said the agreement “requires the federal government to act faster than it ever has before in requiring manufacturers to make more than 20 common appliances more energy efficient. This will help to reduce consumers’ energy bills and air pollution from power plants, while increasing our energy security.”

The federal lawsuit, filed in September 2005 in the southern district of New York, alleged that the agency failed to meet deadlines set by Congress for adopting and updating energy efficiency standards for manufacturers of consumer and commercial appliances.

For example, 13 years have passed since the mandatory review date elapsed for efficiency standards for electric and gas ovens and ranges.

Under the negotiated settlement approved by the court, the agency has agreed to a binding schedule to publish final energy-efficiency rules for appliances that use large amounts of energy, including air conditioners, water heaters, clothes dryers, dishwashers and ovens.

Other states and organizations involved in the suit were California, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Vermont, Wisconsin, the California Energy Commission, New York City, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Services, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Massachusetts Union of Public Housing Tenants and the Texas Ratepayers Organization to Save Energy.

The settlement outlined energy-efficiency deadlines for the following products:

• Instantaneous water heaters — February 2007
• Packaged boilers — February 2007
• Electric distribution transformers — September 2007
• Furnaces and boilers — September 2007
• Packaged air conditioners and heat pumps — September 2008
• Dishwashers — March 2009
• Ranges and ovens — March 2009
• Additional lamps — June 2009
• Incandescent reflector lamps — June 2009
• Fluorescent lamps — June 2009
• Water heaters — March 2010
• Pool heaters — March 2010
• Direct heating equipment — March 2010
• High intensity discharge lamps — June 2010
• Small motors — February 2010
• Clothes dryers — June 2011
• Fluorescent lamp ballasts — June 2011
• Medium-sized motors — June 2011
• Room air conditioners — June 2011
• Central air conditioners and heat pumps — June 2011 — CINDY KIBBE/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW

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