The Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) provides acquisition guidance for commercial steam cookers, a product category covered by ENERGY STAR efficiency requirements. Federal laws and requirements mandate that agencies purchase ENERGY STAR-qualified products or FEMP-designated products in all product categories covered by these programs and in any acquisition actions that are not specifically exempted by law.

FEMP's acquisition guidance and associated ENERGY STAR efficiency requirements apply to pressurized and atmospheric (pressureless) commercial steam cookers (also known as steamers). Steam tables and kettle steamers are excluded.

In the federal sector, commercial steam cookers are typically used in commercial food service operations like cafeterias in General Services Administration (GSA) buildings and dining halls on military bases.

This acquisition guidance was updated in December 2021.

Find Product Efficiency Requirements

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides commercial steam cooker efficiency levels and product specification information on its ENERGY STAR website. Manufacturers meeting these requirements are allowed to display the ENERGY STAR label on complying models. Get a list of ENERGY STAR-qualified steam cookers.

Make a Cost-Effective Purchase: Save $1,876 or More by Buying ENERGY STAR

FEMP has calculated that the required ENERGY STAR-qualified steam cooker saves money if priced no more than $1,876 above the less efficient model. The best available model saves up to $2,559. Table 1 compares three types of product purchases and calculates the lifetime cost savings of purchasing efficient models. Federal purchasers can assume products that meet ENERGY STAR efficiency requirements are life cycle cost-effective.

Table 1. Lifetime Savings for Efficient Commercial Steam Cooker Models
Performance Best Available ENERGY STAR Less Efficient
Cooking Energy Efficiency 79% 50% 30%
Idle Energy Rate 259 W 400 W 1,200 W
Annual Energy Use 1,190 kWh 1,877 kWh 4,232 kWh
Annual Energy Cost $103 $162 $365
Lifetime Energy Cost (12 years) $1,001 $1,684 $3,560
Lifetime Energy Cost Savings $2,559 $1,876 ======

Performance Column

Cooking Energy Efficiency: Represents the amount of energy absorbed by the food compared to the total energy used by the appliance during the cooking process.

Idle Energy Rate: A measure of appliance energy consumption (in watts) while holding or maintaining a stabilized operating condition or temperature.

Annual Energy Use: Includes preheat, active, and idle energy (in kilowatt-hours) used to cook 50 lb of food per day. Assumes a three-pan, pressureless steam cooker used an average of 4 hours per day, 250 days per year.

Annual Energy Cost: Calculated based on an assumed electricity price of $0.09/kWh, which is the average electricity price at federal facilities throughout the United States.

Lifetime Energy Cost: The sum of the discounted value of annual energy cost and an assumed product life of 12 years. Future electricity price trends and a 3% discount rate are from Energy Price Indices and Discount Factors for Life-Cycle Cost Analysis–2021: Annual Supplement to NIST Handbook 135 (NISTIR 85-3273-36).

Lifetime Energy Cost Savings: The difference between the lifetime energy cost of the less efficient model and the lifetime energy cost of the ENERGY STAR model or best available model.

Best Available Model Column

Calculated based on the December 2021 ENERGY STAR List of Qualified Products; values shown are rounded to the nearest dollar. More efficient models may be introduced to the market after FEMP's acquisition guidance is posted.

ENERGY STAR Model Column

Calculated based on current ENERGY STAR efficiency levels; values shown are rounded to the nearest dollar. Federal agencies must purchase products that meet or exceed ENERGY STAR efficiency levels.

Less Efficient Model Column

Calculated based on ENERGY STAR's assumption for "Conventional Model".

Determine When ENERGY STAR Products Are Cost-Effective

An efficient product is cost-effective when the lifetime energy savings (from avoided energy costs over the life of the product, discounted to present value) exceed the additional up-front cost (if any) compared to a less efficient option. ENERGY STAR considers up-front costs and lifetime energy savings when setting required efficiency levels. Federal purchasers can assume ENERGY STAR-qualified products and products that meet FEMP-designated efficiency requirements are life cycle cost-effective. In high-use applications or when energy rates are above the federal average, purchasers may save more if they specify products that exceed federal efficiency requirements (e.g., the best available model).

Contact ENERGY STAR for more information about annual and lifetime cost savings available from ENERGY STAR-certified products.

Claim an Exception to Federal Purchasing Requirements

Products meeting ENERGY STAR or FEMP-designated efficiency requirements may not be life cycle cost-effective in certain low-use applications or in locations with very low rates for electricity or natural gas. However, for most applications, purchasers will find that energy-efficient products have the lowest life cycle cost.

Agencies may claim an exception to federal purchasing requirements through a written finding that no FEMP-designated or ENERGY STAR-qualified product is available to meet functional requirements, or that no such product is life cycle cost-effective for the specific application. Learn more about federal product purchasing requirements.

Incorporate Federal Acquisition Regulation Language in Contracts

These mandatory requirements apply to all forms of procurement, including construction guide and project specifications; renovation, repair, energy service, and operation and maintenance (O&M) contracts; lease agreements; acquisitions made using purchase cards; and solicitations for offers. Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Part 23.206 requires agencies to insert the clause at FAR section 52.223-15 into contracts and solicitations that deliver, acquire, furnish, or specify energy-consuming products for use in federal government facilities. To comply with FAR requirements, FEMP recommends that agencies incorporate efficiency requirements into technical specifications, the evaluation criteria of solicitations, and the evaluations of solicitation responses.

Find Federal Supply Sources

The federal supply sources for energy-efficient products are the General Services Administration (GSA) and the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA). GSA sells products through its Multiple Awards Schedules program and online shopping network, GSA Advantage!. DLA offers products through the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia and online through FedMall (formerly DOD EMALL). Products sold through DLA are codified with a 13-digit National Stock Number (NSN) and, in some cases, a two-letter Environmental Attribute Code (ENAC). The ENAC identifies items that have positive environmental characteristics and meet standards set by an approved third party, such as FEMP and ENERGY STAR.

The United Nations Standard Products and Services Code (UNSPSC) is a worldwide classification system for e-commerce. It contains more than 50,000 commodities, including many used in the federal sector, each with a unique eight-digit, four-level identification code. Manufacturers and vendors are beginning to adopt the UNSPSC classification convention and electronic procurement systems are beginning to include UNSPSC tracking in their software packages. UNSPSCs can help the federal acquisition community identify product categories covered by sustainable acquisition requirements, track purchases of products within those categories, and report on progress toward meeting sustainable acquisition goals. FEMP has developed a table of ENERGY STAR and FEMP-designated covered product categories and related UNSPSC numbers.

Commercial Steam Cooker Schedules and Product Codes

DLA's ENAC for commercial steam cookers is "JQ."

The UNSPSC for steam cookers is 48101524.

Buyer Tips: Make Informed Product Purchases

Features to look for when buying energy-efficient steam cookers include forced convection, vacuum pumps, closed systems, and compartmental insulation. Steam cookers idle approximately 75% of the time, so improved control strategies such as standby mode can save substantial amounts of energy and associated energy costs.

Connectionless steamers are equipped with a built-in reservoir that eliminates the need for a water supply and drain lines; water is added and drained manually. The advantage of this design is that steam cannot escape from the compartment through the drain line. Although connectionless steamers are very efficient, they can increase cook times. If fast cook times are not essential, connectionless steamers are a good choice.

Many states and electric utilities offer rebates or other incentives for the purchase of ENERGY STAR-qualified products. Use the ENERGY STAR Rebate Finder to see if your local utility offers these incentives. FEMP's Energy Incentive Program helps federal agencies take advantage of these incentives by providing information about the funding-program opportunities available in each state.

User Tips: Use Products More Efficiently

Implement an equipment start-up/shut-down schedule. For multiple-compartment steamers, turn off unused compartments during slow periods. As most steamers can be preheated within 20 minutes, secondary compartments can be turned off without significantly impacting food service operations.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory provided supporting analysis for this acquisition guidance.