U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
Building Technologies Office – Appliance & Equipment Standards
History of Federal Appliance Standards
The movement for federal appliance efficiency standards started in the 1970s. At that time, several states were adopting appliance efficiency standards. The Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 (EPCA) established a federal energy conservation program for major household appliances by calling for appliance efficiency targets. However, little progress was made to establish standards until the 1980s.
By 1986, appliance manufacturers realized that uniform federal standards were preferable to a variety of state standards. The National Appliance Energy Conservation Act of 1987 established minimum efficiency standards for many household appliances: refrigerators, refrigerator-freezers, and freezers; room air conditioners; fluorescent lamp ballasts; incandescent reflector lamps; clothes dryers and clothes washers; dishwashers; kitchen ranges and ovens; pool heaters; television sets (withdrawn in 1995); and water heaters. Congress set initial federal energy efficiency standards and established schedules for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to review these standards.
The Energy Policy Act of 1992 (EPAct) added standards for some fluorescent and incandescent reflector lamps; plumbing products; electric motors; commercial water heaters; and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. EPAct allowed for the future development of standards for many other products.
EPAct also provided for voluntary testing and consumer information programs for office equipment, luminaries, and windows. A federal standard for energy or water conservation products preempts state standards. States may petition DOE for an exemption from federal standards, under certain circumstances.