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DOE RFIs on Energy Efficiency Standards and Test Procedures Looking Closely at Connected Products and New Technologies

The Department of Energy (DOE or the Department) recently published several Requests for Information (RFIs) in the Federal Register seeking input on potential amendments to certain energy conservation standards and test procedures for both consumer and commercial products. These requests were issued in fulfillment of the Department's statutory obligation to periodically reevaluate the energy efficiency standards and test procedures of covered products.[1] In each case, DOE is seeking stakeholder input on whether technological or market changes since the most recent standard or test procedure justify more stringent or efficient standards.

As with other recent requests,[2] DOE is also seeking to supplement a 2018 RFI which sought to better understand the smart technology sector and ensure that the energy efficiency standards did not inadvertently impede innovation while fulfilling DOE's statutory mandate.[3] In particular, the RFI on the Energy Conservation Standards for External Power Supplies (EPSs) seeks to determine the feasibility of additional energy savings by amending the current EPS energy conservation standards. Critically, DOE is also looking into the widespread availability of USB charging ports on common household products and asking whether these products should be regulated as EPSs. If not, how should EPSs be distinguished from other consumer products with USB charging? The Department is also requesting information on wireless mats and wireless power devices (e.g., electric shavers, smartwatches, etc.), and to what extent this technology should be regulated under the EPS standards. Comments are due July 6, 2020.

DOE also seeks to determine whether the current Test Procedure for Residential and Commercial Clothes Washers remains representative of average use. As part of this review, the DOE is requesting a broad array of information about the energy performance of connected clothes washers, including hardware and software impacts, consumer preferences, and the advisability of testing clothes washers with the network functionality turned off. Comments due June 22, 2020.

Other RFIs published recently by the DOE include:

  • Energy Conservation Standards for Consumer Water Heaters. DOE is requesting public comment on various regulatory definitions, including whether "tabletop water heaters" should still be considered separately from other classes of consumer water heaters. It also requests information and data on new product classes, representative storage volumes and input capacities for each product class, technological and design options for increasing efficiency, and life-cycle costs, among other lines of inquiry. Comments due July 6, 2020.
  • Energy Conservation Standards for Electric Motors. DOE is requesting public comment on whether an amendment to the current energy conservation standards for electric motors is necessary. The information sought by the Department includes whether additional definitions are necessary to clarify any potential ambiguity between equipment class groups and whether revisions and/or additions to existing equipment class groups are needed. DOE is also inquiring about the baseline and max-tech efficiency levels to consider. Comments due June 22, 2020
  • Test Procedure for Consumer Boilers. DOE is requesting stakeholder input on whether an amended test procedure would more accurately produce results that are representative of the average use cycle of consumer boilers. In addition, the Department is also requesting comments on whether to incorporate the latest version of American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers Standard 103, which has been amended several times since the 1993 version of the standard was incorporated by DOE into the test procedure. Comments due June 15, 2020.
  • Energy Conservation Standards for Air-Cooled Commercial Package Air Conditioning and Heating Equipment and Commercial Warm Air Furnaces. The Department is requesting comments on whether it should amend the energy efficiency standards for air-cooled commercial package air conditioning and heating equipment (ACUACs, ACUHPs) and commercial warm-air furnaces (CWAFs). In particular, DOE is asking for comments on the state of ACUAC, ACUHP, and CWAF technology and how it can be used to increase energy efficiency. Comments due June 11, 2020.
  • Energy Conservation Standards for Water-Source Heat Pumps. Comments due June 11, 2020. DOE is requesting comments on whether amended standards for water-source heat pumps (WSHPs) are feasible and can provide additional significant energy savings. The request seeks information on current market technologies, appropriate baseline, and max-tech efficiency levels, among other issues.

For any questions on these RFIs or energy efficiency requirements in general, please contact us.

[1] 42 U.S.C §§ 6295(m)(1), 6293(b)(1)(A), 6313(a)(6)(C).

[2] 85 FR 26369, 82 FR 37031.

[3] Id. at 46,888.