The Most Efficient pilot initiative is being run by the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy as part of the Energy Star program, as a way to encourage manufacturers to improve product energy efficiency, while providing consumers more information about their purchases. It is designed to appeal in particular to environmentally minded consumers and early adopters.
Most Efficient products announced today include:
- 15 washing machines, by Frigidaire, Crosley, Kenmore, LG, Electrolux and Samsung
- 18 televisions, by Samsung, Panasonic, LG and Best Buy’s Insignia brand
- Four central air conditioners and/or heat source pumps, all by Rheem
The agencies say they will announce Most Efficient refrigerator-freezers soon, and that they have set requirements for Most Efficient furnaces and geothermal heat pumps. The EPA will begin a process later this year to include more categories.
Most Efficient recognition will represent about the top five percent of models on the market, the agencies said. To receive Most Efficient designation, products should be Energy Star-qualified, certified by an EPA-recognized body, and should meet performance requirements set for each category.
For washing machines with a volume smaller than or equal to 2.5 cubic feet, the requirements include a modified energy factor (MEF) of 2.3 or greater and a water factor (WF) of 4.5 or less. For washing machines over 2.5 cubic feet, the required MEF is 3.0 or greater, and the required WF is 3.3 or less.
Air-source heat pumps and central air conditions must have a seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) greater than or equal to 18, with a 12.5 energy efficiency ratio (EER) for split systems, and an SEER of 16 and and EER of 12 for packaged systems. Air-source heat pumps must also have a heating seasonal performance factor (HSPF) of 9.6, or 8 for packaged systems.
Furnaces must have 97 percent annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE). All heating and air systems must have communications, diagnostics and automated configuration.
Refrigerator-freezers must use 422 kWh or less per year.
For televisions, the program has set a maximum on-mode power consumption as a function of the device’s screen size, with different formulae applying to different size classes.
“This new designation will help Americans save money and cut pollution by quickly pointing them to the best Energy Star products have to offer,” said EPA administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “Highlighting Energy Star’s Most Efficient products is a great way to encourage the strides in innovation that bring even more energy and money saving choices to our stores.”
The Energy Star program today applies to more than 60 types of products as well as new homes and commercial and industrial buildings. Through Energy Star, Americans last year saved $18 billion on their energy bills while preventing greenhouse gas emissions equal to that of 33 million vehicles, the agencies said.
“The new Most Efficient designation is the next step towards encouraging new, more energy-efficient products to enter the market, so that consumers will have even more choices when it comes to high performance, high efficiency products that will save them energy and money,” said energy secretary Steven Chu.
Recently the Department of Energy has been taking a more aggressive approach on appliances that violate energy efficiency standards, with Samsung and Electrolux Gibson among the companies that have failed Energy Star testing in the past year.
In a 2009 lawsuit, LG Electronics claimed that the department unfairly ordered the company to remove Energy Star labels from one of its refrigerators. LG said that the DOE changed the standards without warning. The two parties settled last year, but only after the DOE forced LG to remove the Energy Star label from one of its models.