The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has proposed new energy-efficiency standards for refrigerators and clothes washers that will lower household energy costs and significantly reduce pollution. The DOE expects the new standards, which have not been updated in more than a decade, to save American consumers approximately $3.5 billion per year on their energy and water bills. These proposed rules are the Biden-Harris Administration’s latest steps in delivering savings through appliance efficiency, as directed by Congress.
“With [these] proposals, we’re building on a decades-long effort with industry to ensure tomorrow’s appliances work more efficiently and save Americans money,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “Over the last 40 years, at the direction of Congress, the DOE has worked to promote innovation, improve consumers’ options, and raise efficiency standards for household appliances without sacrificing the reliability and performance that Americans have come to expect.”
Previous DOE rulemakings have substantially increased the energy efficiency of refrigerators and clothes washers while allowing manufacturers the flexibility to continuously improve their products. Today, the typical new refrigerator uses 75 percent less energy than its 1973 counterpart—while offering roughly 20 percent more storage capacity and more useful features. In that 40-year span, DOE raised the efficiency standard for refrigerators three times. Similarly, today’s clothes washers use 70 percent less energy than in 1990 and offer 50 percent more tub capacity. The new proposed rules will continue this trajectory of innovation and savings.
The products covered by these rules currently account for 5 percent of annual residential energy use, which amounts to 8 percent of residential electricity use in the United States. If adopted within DOE’s proposed timeframe, the new rules will come into effect in 2027. DOE expects the new rules to save consumers more than $60 billion over the ensuing 30 years of shipments. Households using new refrigerators and clothes washers will save an estimated $425 on their utility bill over the average life of the appliance with these standards in place, on top of the benefits Americans are experiencing from prior improvements. Over the next 30 years, the two rules are expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 233 million metric tons—an amount roughly equivalent to the combined annual emissions of 29 million homes.
Today’s proposals build on the more than 110 actions the Biden-Harris Administration took in 2022 to strengthen energy-efficiency standards and save the average family at least $100 annually through lower energy bills. Collectively these energy efficiency actions will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 2.4 billion metric tons, save consumers $570 billion cumulatively over 30 years, and support President Biden’s ambitious clean energy agenda to combat the climate crisis.
DOE’s Building Technologies Office implements minimum energy conservation standards for more than 60 categories of appliances and equipment. To learn more, visit the Appliance and Equipment Standards Program homepage.