Energy-Saving Appliance Standards Would Cut Natural Gas, Electricity Waste; Save Colorado Consumers More Than $1 Billion

Environment Colorado

DENVER—From light bulbs to office water coolers to DVD players, new appliance energy efficiency standards could save the state’s consumers and businesses millions of dollars, ease pressure on high natural gas prices, improve electric system reliability, and cut global warming pollution, according to a report released today by Environment Colorado and authored by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) and the Appliance Standards Awareness Project (ASAP).

“Energy efficiency standards are a win-win-win policy,” said Isaac Silverman from Environment Colorado. “They save money, cut pollution and help wean Colorado from insecure energy sources.”

According to the report, adopting the recommended standards in Colorado would result in annual savings reaching about 6 billion cubic feet of natural gas (enough to heat 114,485 typical households) and 824 million kilowatt hours electricity (equivalent to meet the electricity needs of 8,314 typical homes) by 2020. Electricity savings from the standards would cut peak electricity demand by 824 megawatts in 2020, helping to defer the need for new power plants. Altogether, the energy savings from new standards would net energy consumers more than $1 billion in savings over about twenty years.

“Advances in technology keep giving us opportunities to cut energy waste,” said Silverman. “Standards that improve the energy efficiency of common consumer products and commercial equipment are a cornerstone of a sensible energy policy.”

Since 2004, ten states (AZ, CA, CT, MA, MD, NJ, NY, OR, RI and WA) have established new energy-saving standards covering between five and thirty products, most through new state legislation. In August 2005, Congress took its cue from the states and made 15 of these state standards federal law. For the new report, the authors looked beyond those products addressed by Congress in 2005 and found another 14 products for which near-term state standards make sense in Colorado. Most of these newly-recommended standards have already been adopted in one or more states.

“The states are ‘leading the way’ when it comes to energy-saving standards,” said Andrew deLaski, Executive Director of ASAP and co-author of the report, referring to the new report’s title. “With consumers and businesses getting hammered by high energy prices and persistent worries about our nation’s addiction to imported energy, state policy-makers are looking to energy efficiency. It’s the cheapest, fastest, and safest way to meet our energy needs.”

By lowering natural gas use, the standards could help lead to lower energy prices. In a separate 2005 study, ACEEE found that a 2 to 4% reduction in natural gas use can reduce natural gas prices by 20% or more in tight market conditions. The recommended appliance efficiency standards would start saving natural gas immediately. If adopted nationally, the savings levels would grow to 340 billion cubic feet per year by 2020, about 1.3% of the U.S. Department of Energy’s projected national consumption for that year.

Products for which the report recommends state efficiency standards include: bottle-type water dispensers; DVD players, certain audio products and external power supplies for electronics (a.k.a., “energy vampires”); reflector light bulbs and certain commercial light fixtures; swimming pool pumps and heaters; hot tubs; and walk-in refrigerators. Strong state standards for home furnaces and boilers, a product covered by an out-of-date federal standard, would yield the biggest savings. The new report provides details on each of the products for which new state standards make sense.

According to Silverman, standards are a “proven successful” way to curtail energy waste. New standards can be set at the state or federal level, but states have nearly always acted first. States first set appliance and equipment efficiency standards in the 1970s and 1980s, leading eventually to federal standards for more than two dozen products. Based on U.S. Department of Energy data, these already existing standards will cut U.S. electricity use by nearly 8% by 2020.

The report relied on clear criteria for selecting recommended standards. Each recommended standard would result in significant energy savings and be very cost-effective (i.e. purchasers of the affected products would earn back any incremental cost to improve efficiency within one to three years for most products). In addition, products meeting the recommended standards are readily available today from multiple manufacturers and existing technical standards ease state implementation of such standards.

Leading the Way: Continued Opportunities for New State Appliance and Equipment Efficiency Standards including an online appendix of state-by-state impact data is available for free download at

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy is an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing energy efficiency as a means of promoting both economic prosperity and environmental protection. For information about ACEEE and its programs and other publications, visit

The Appliance Standards Awareness Project (ASAP) is a coalition group dedicated to advancing cost-effective energy efficiency standards for appliances and equipment. ASAP works at both the state and federal levels and is led by a Steering Committee with representatives from consumer groups, utilities, state government, environmental groups, and energy efficiency groups. For information about ASAP, contact ASAP, 20 Belgrade Avenue, Suite 1, Boston, MA 02131 or visit