The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced the completion of two significant rulemakings that establish strong new minimum efficiency standards for electric motors and walk-in coolers and freezers. The two new standards will significantly reduce energy waste, save money and cut pollution. These and other product categories for which DOE has proposed standards mark an impressive stretch of activity at the Department, and a reminder that the federal standards program continues to be an area of opportunity for states to impact energy savings.
According to the Department of Energy, these two new efficiency standards announced in early May will reduce electricity consumption by about 1.2 trillion kilowatt-hours over thirty years of sales — roughly enough electricity to meet the needs of every U.S. household for a year. The standards also have notable environmental benefits.
It’s always interesting to witness a convergence of events that serve to highlight and illustrate an issue raised in the course of public debate.
Such a convergence has occurred in recent weeks, in this case involving energy efficiency standards set by the states and the federal government, which date to the days when Ronald Reagan was governor of California and public consciousness began turning to the idea that energy was a vital commodity that needed to be regulated via public policy.
On December 31, with most of us ensconced in a holiday glow against the biting cold, the Associated Press ran a story nationally that cited the energy use consumption analysis compiled by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) showing that the average amount of electricity consumed in U.S. homes has fallen to their lowest levels in more than a decade – this despite the fact that the proliferation of consumer electronics grew exponentially over that same time span. In fact, electricity consumption fell in 2012 for the second year in a row, as the graphic below depicts:
Source: U.S. EIA, December 20, 2013
Yes, Halloween is just around the corner, but we’re not talking about the types of vampires or phantoms that frequent late night television programming or beaming computer screens in dark living rooms. What we are talking about can be just as frightening — the technology, that portrays those eerie figures, itself. Vampire or phantom loads refer to the appliances and electronics that draw electricity from your outlets, even when they are turned off.
The incessant leaching of idle electricity drains your electrical system and adds up on the electricity bill. So what can we do to protect ourselves against these types of loads, become more energy efficient and save money on our electric bills?
The answer is not garlic, a wooden stake, catching up on Scooby Doo, or even going around and unplugging every device. (ZOIKS!) It’s much simpler than battling the ghastly forces of evil that pervade the various rooms of your home.
“The courage to act before it’s too late.” That’s how President Obama framed his address on Tuesday on climate change. Speaking to students at Georgetown University, the President asked for a new generation’s help to keep “the United States of America a leader in the fight against climate change.” The speech laid out a new climate change action plan that includes placing limits on the carbon dioxide emissions from power plants under the Clean Air Act, creating new federal appliance standards that will bring emissions down by 3 billion tons by 2030, as well as programs to increase the efficiency of our commercial, industrial, and multifamily buildings by 20 percent by 2020 (see the details of from the White House here).
You may be surprised to hear that Distribution Transformers (which include the round barrel-looking devices on telephone poles) offer significant energy savings opportunities. Although most transformers are quite efficient (efficiencies over 98%), the sheer volume of these deployed throughout the country mean even small improvements can result in big savings.
A few weeks ago, DOE published proposed efficiency standards for Distribution Transformers (This product class is made up of 3 categories of transformers; Medium-voltage liquid-immersed, Medium-voltage dry-type, Low voltage dry-type).
Besides the document containing surprising errors and misrepresentations, the proposed levels selected by the Department fell at the very low end of the levels considered. Continue reading
In a recent blog post, Penni McLean-Conner of NSTAR, highlighted the tremendous innovation spurred on by the new EISA standards enacted on January 1. The standards have truly brought about the biggest evolution in the lighting industry since Edison was around. Some of this change has not been so welcomed. In her post Conner explains,
“Another important change brought about by the EISA will be a focus on comparing bulbs based on light output, or lumens, rather than relying solely on the traditional comparison of electricity use measured in watts. That straight-forward measurement is an apples-to-apples comparison consumers will warm up to over time.”
Our most recent Policy Tracker is available now. Key developments include:
- State Policy Updates: Delaware Policy Status, New Hampshire Energy Policy Study, New York SBC IV, Rhode Island’s New Savings Targets, and Vermont Energy Efficiency Budgets
- New NEEP Resources: Codes Conference Presentations, Home Energy Efficiency Basics for Real Estate Professionals, and update on DOE Appliance Efficiency Standards
- New Reports: Energy Efficiency Financing in Vermont and IMT Buliding Energy Disclosure Report
Check out the latest news here.
Future appliance standards could eliminate growth in residential sector energy use through 2035, according to an analysis conducted for the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s Annual Energy Outlook 2011.
While modest improvements to the efficiency of products “covered” by the federal appliance standards efficiency program will achieve sizable savings, by adopting more aggressive standards for the products currently covered and by adding new products to the program (i.e. set-top boxes and computers), the country could flat line residential energy growth over the next 20 years!
To achieve those aggressive levels, stakeholders from local and state governments, utility companies, grassroots advocacy organizations, etc. need to make their voices heard when the Department of Energy conducts their rulemakings. Visit the Appliance Standards section of NEEP’s website for more information.
Have a look at what we’re covering in the latest issue of our newsletter, NEEP Notes:
A wrap-up of the Northeast Energy Efficiency Summit, and a preview of new EM&V Forum Products!
Check out the latest NEEP Notes and subscribe to all of our newsletters on our website!
Thanks to NRDC, a longtime partner of NEEP in helping to set new appliance efficiency standards, the challenge of energy waste from television set-top boxes-those ubiquitous devices that receive cable TV signals or digitally record TV shows-is receiving front-page news coverage. The “Better Viewing, Lower Energy Bills, and Less Pollution” report, available here, shows that the 160 million set-top boxes installed in American homes consume as much electricity as all the homes in the state of Maryland do in one year. That’s equivalent to nine 500 MW coal-fired power plants. And most of this is vampire load, consumed when the devices are not in use.