How to Make Appliance Standards Work: Improving Energy and Water Efficiency Test Procedures

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Many nations have minimum energy performance standards and voluntary labeling programs for appliances. Credible test procedures are the foundation upon which all standards and voluntary programs are built. Reliable test procedures are also the basis of a robust certification and enforcement program. Unfortunately not enough attention has been paid to the process of developing these test procedures. In many cases the test procedures do not reflect field usage or have not kept up with changes in technology. The regulatory structure is different in each country, but they all face similar problems. The purpose of this paper is to layout a framework to improve test procedures for existing programs. The focus of this paper is on U.S., but an analogous framework would be appropriate in other nations. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) currently regulates minimum energy and water levels for 30 classes of products, and voluntary programs such as Energy Star and utility efficiency programs cover at least another 20 types of products. This presentation describes a process the Federal government should undertake to ensure the test procedures used to measure the energy and water efficiency of products are effective, and are developed and updated in a timely manner.We propose a continuous, iterative process consisting of six phases for each type of appliance. These six phases are; survey, investigate, develop, regulate, enforce, and inform. At each step of the process, the DOE would benefit from having a core team of qualified staff but would also engage independent, knowledgeable experts who are familiar with the existing test procedures for those products. DOE would work with all stakeholders who have an interest in that product. It is essential that all perspectives be considered. These stakeholders include manufacturers and their trade associations, utilities, other government agencies, other governments, standards bodies, consumer groups, and energy efficiency advocacy organizations. An important aspect of this program will be to harmonize the US test procedures with those of other countries. This is particularly important in a world of global products, where harmonized.

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