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Oversized freezers increase purchase cost, require more space, and waste energy because of unused capacity. Be sure to select the freezer size that meets your operational needs.

The Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) provides acquisition guidance for residential freezers, 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 for residential freezers are technology neutral, meaning that one technology is not favored over another. However, ENERGY STAR's product specification requirements are limited to electric upright, chest, and compact freezers. All other freezers are excluded, including but not limited to commercial and laboratory freezers and products covered by other ENERGY STAR program requirements.

This acquisition guidance was updated in December 2021.

Find Product Efficiency Requirements

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides residential freezer 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-certified residential freezers.

Make a Cost-Effective Purchase: Save $64 or More by Buying Energy Star

FEMP has calculated that the required ENERGY STAR-qualified residential freezer saves money if priced no more than $64 (in 2020 dollars) above the less efficient model. As of December 2021, no models in this product category exceed the ENERGY STAR efficiency levels. Table 1 compares two 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 Freezer Models
Performance Best Available ENERGY STAR Less Efficient
Annual Energy Use (kWh) ===== 438 486
Annual Energy Cost ===== $38 $42
Lifetime Energy Cost ===== $586 $650
Lifetime Cost Savings ===== $64 =====

Performance Column

Annual Energy Use: Based on the test method referenced in 10 CFR 430, Subpart B, Appendix B for a 16.6-ft3 capacity, upright freezer with automatic defrost, listed in kilowatt-hours.

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. Learn more about Federal Government Energy/Water Use and Emissions.

Lifetime Energy Cost: Calculated as the sum of the discounted value of the annual energy cost over the assumed product life of 21.7 years, from DOE's Technical Support Document, Energy Efficiency Standards for Consumer Products: Residential Refrigerators, Refrigerator-Freezers, and Freezers (EERE-2008-BT-STD-0012-0128). 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 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

As of December 2021, no models in this product category exceed the ENERGY STAR efficiency levels.

Energy Star Model Column

Calculated based on December 2021 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 typical products used in non-federal applications.

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).

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.

Residential Freezer Schedules and Product Codes

The DLA ENAC for residential freezer models is "LK".

The UNSPSC for residential (domestic) freezers is 52141506, for domestic upright freezers is 52141507, and for domestic chest freezers is 52141508.

Buyer Tips: Make Informed Product Purchases

Select a freezer size and type that is appropriate for the amount of food stored. Oversized freezers increase purchase cost, require more space, and waste energy because of unused capacity. Chest freezers are more efficient than upright models because they typically have more insulation and cold air does not sink out of them when they are opened.

Some 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.

User Tips: Use Products More Efficiently

Set the freezer temperature between -5° Fahrenheit (F) and 0°F. Temperatures below this will unnecessarily increase energy use while providing no additional benefit to food storage. Be careful not to set the temperature above 0°F because doing so will shorten the time food items can be stored. Because few residential freezers display this information, use an inexpensive appliance thermometer to monitor the interior temperature and adjust the setting as necessary.

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