DOE Strengthens Energy Star Criteria for Washers, Light Bulbs

The U.S. Department of Energy announced more stringent criteria for clothes washers and expanded the categories of compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) under the Energy Star® label.

Based on first-year projected sales data, approximately 1.9 million Energy Star®-qualified clothes washers will be sold, saving American families up to $92.4 million annually on their water and utility bills. Compact fluorescent light bulb products under the label — which include new categories that contain less mercury, new candelabra products, and more rigorous testing procedures — are expected to save Americans approximately $30 billion in utility costs over the next five years.

The requirements for clothes washers will take effect in two phases. In order to qualify, clothes washers must be a minimum of 43 percent more efficient than current federal energy efficiency standards with a maximum Water Factor (WF) of 7.5, as of July 1, 2009. As of Jan. 1, 2011, clothes washers must be a minimum of 59 percent more efficient with a maximum WF of 6.0. WF measures the water efficiency and is calculated as gallons of water used per cubic foot of capacity – the lower the WF, the more efficient the clothes washer.

Current Energy Star-qualified clothes washers use 75 percent less energy than clothes washer models manufactured in 1980.

For CFLs, the new criteria limits the amount of mercury that CFLs can contain to less than 5 milligrams for most bulbs, incorporates a third-party testing program for all bulbs effective in November 2008, tightens lamp color requirements, and adds high-heat testing requirements for reflector products. The revised CFL criteria take effect on Dec. 2, 2008, 270 days from issuance of the criteria.

Energy Star® is a joint U.S. Department of Energy-U.S. Environmental Protection Agency program, formed in 1992 as a voluntary, market-based partnership that seeks to reduce air pollution through increased energy efficiency.

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