The Department of Energy (DOE), through the Buildings Technologies Office, sets minimum energy efficiency standards for approximately 60 categories of appliances and equipment used in homes, businesses, and other applications, as required by existing law. The appliances and equipment covered provide services that are used by consumers and businesses each day, such as space heating and cooling, refrigeration, cooking, clothes washing and drying, and lighting. DOE's minimum efficiency standards significantly reduce U.S. energy demand, lower emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants, and save consumers billions of dollars every year, without lessening the vital services provided by these products. In addition, DOE implements laws designed to limit the water consumption of several plumbing products.

For most products, Congress passed laws that set initial federal energy efficiency standards and test procedures, and that established schedules for DOE to review and update these standards and test procedures. All manufacturers and importers of covered products must use the DOE test procedures to ensure compliance with the standards, unless granted explicit waivers.

DOE regulations governing covered appliances and equipment are established through a rulemaking process that provides opportunities for public review and comment. Manufacturers, product importers and distributors, energy suppliers, efficiency and environmental advocates, and other members of the public are encouraged to participate in rulemakings. DOE maintains a rulemaking schedule and reports on its rulemakings to Congress every six months.

The Building Technologies Office’s Multi-Year Program Plan for Fiscal Years 2016-2020 provides a roadmap of our strategies and goals for significantly reducing building energy use intensity.

History and Impacts

Beginning with the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975, Congress has passed a series of statutes establishing minimum energy conservation standards for consumer products and commercial and industrial equipment. The products regulated by the program represent about 90% of home energy use, 60% of commercial building energy use, and 30% of industrial energy use. Standards saved American consumers $63 billion on their utility bills in 2015, and cumulatively, have helped the United States avoid 2.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

Statutory Authorities and Rules

DOE's statutory mandates are enforced by regulations published in the Code of Federal Regulations.

Regulatory Processes

The program is responsible for 10 different types of regulatory processes:

Most of these activities are guided by regulations established through multi-stage rulemakings. Stakeholders are encouraged to participate in all stages of a rulemaking.

Plans and Schedules

DOE has issued various plans and schedules for its rulemakings and other activities, and also provides semi-annual implementation reports to Congress pertaining to DOE's deadlines for issuing new or amended energy conservation standards.

Reports and Publications

DOE also produces other publications related to appliance and equipment energy efficiency and water use.