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The Department of Energy (DOE) conducted a formal effort between 1995 and 1996 to improve the process it used to develop appliance efficiency standards. This effort involved many different stakeholders, including manufacturers, energy-efficiency advocates, trade associations, state agencies, utilities, and other interested parties. The result was the publication of the Process Rule: 61 FR 36974 (July 15, 1996).

Found in the Code of Federal Regulations at 10 CFR 430 Appendix A to Subpart C, the Process Rule describes the procedures, interpretations, and policies that guide DOE in establishing new or revised energy-efficiency standards for consumer products. Elements of the Process Rule have been superseded or supplemented by more recent practices described elsewhere on this website or in other notices issued by DOE.

In November 2010, DOE announced that it would, in appropriate cases, implement the following changes to expedite its rulemaking process:

  • Employing more efficient data-gathering methods;
  • Moving analytical information to the technical support document; and
  • Establishing a standing negotiated rulemaking committee.

On February 13, 2019 DOE published a Federal Register proposed rule to streamline and modernize the so-called “Process Rule.” The proposal would substantially improve the agency’s process for setting energy-efficiency standards and test procedures for residential appliances and commercial equipment, enhancing transparency, accountability, and regulatory certainty for stakeholders.

On July 26, 2019, DOE published a Federal Register notice of data availability (NODA) pertaining to the Process Rule announcing data availability regarding national energy savings estimates in past DOE energy conservation standards rulemakings. These data will help inform DOE’s decision-making process as it considers whether to establish a significant energy savings threshold for setting energy conservation standards for consumer products and commercial and industrial equipment.

On February 14, 2020, DOE published a Federal Register final rule updating and streamlining aspects of the Department’s current rule making process under the Appliance Standards Program.

DOE also published a proposed rule that would clarify the procedures used to evaluate the economic justification of new or amended energy conservation standards. DOE is also seeking public comment on a proposal to amend the so-called “walk-down” process for evaluating new or amended energy conservation standard levels. DOE is proposing to conduct a comparative analysis of the relative costs and benefits of proposed energy conservation standard levels, which would help DOE make a reliable determination that the chosen energy conservation standard level is economically justified. The Department is taking this step in response to comments on the Process Rule proposal. The “walk-down” process contained in the final Process Rule will remain as it has been while the public considers this new proposal, provides comments, and DOE determines how to proceed in response.

Interested persons may submit comments identified by docket number EERE--2017-BT-STD-0062 by email (, postal mail, or hand delivery/courier.

Click here to view the OIRA redline version of the Process Rule.

Public Meetings & Comment Deadlines >>