October 18, 2005

US says fans, other appliances must use less energy

By Lisa Lambert

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Department of Energy on
Tuesday ordered the manufacturers of more than a dozen
appliances and products, ranging from traffic signals to
commercial ice makers, to create products that use less energy.

A broad energy bill passed by the Congress and signed into
law this summer required the department to develop energy
efficiency standards for 15 residential and commercial

"We put tougher efficiency standards in the energy bill so
we could get dramatic energy savings to the consumers faster,"
said Senate Energy Committee Chairman Pete Domenici, welcoming
the department's action. "If we hadn't mandated new standards
in the bill, the administrative process for raising these
standards could have taken years."

Under the new regulations, ceiling fans and their lighting
kits must be manufactured to use less energy, and the rules
will also apply to commercial air conditioning and heating

For smaller products, such as illuminated "Exit" signs
posted in buildings, the regulations go into effect in 2006.
For larger appliances like commercial refrigerators and clothes
washers, manufacturers have until 2010 to comply.

According to the DOE, there is no requirement for consumers
to replace existing equipment before the time that they would
normally replace those appliances or pieces of equipment.

The nonprofit American Council for an Energy-Efficient
Economy estimates that by 2020 the stricter standards will save
consumers $8.24 billion per year, and reduce peak power demand
by 30,227 megawatts.

That is equal to the amount of electricity produced by 100
power plants, said Lowell Ungar, senior policy analyst for the
Alliance to Save Energy, a coalition of business, government
and environmental leaders.

"In terms of energy efficiency these standards are the most
important piece of the energy bill," Ungar said. "They will
save consumers money, they will reduce global warming, they
will reduce strain on the electric grid."

The Energy Department was unable to provide information on
how much less energy the regulations would require the specific
appliances to use, said spokesperson Chris Kielich.