Uncle Sam Enforces Appliance Efficiency

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), which previously decided to take a stance on more aggressive enforcement of voluntary Energy Star guidelines for energy efficient devices, is now going after a larger pool of companies whose products have reportedly not been legally certified that they comply with energy efficiency or water conservation standards. This group of targets include some well known names, such as GE and Sanyo.

The DOE in a statement said it is going after 27 manufacturers, importers, and private labelers of appliance, plumbing, and lighting products whose devices have yet to meet appliance efficiency requirements. These products in question, which vary depending upon manufacturer, include select GE dehumidifiers; Sanyo refrigerators, refrigerator-freezers and freezers; and Daewoo residential clothes dryers. Fines collectively being sought by the DOE against these companies hover around $3.5 million, though the DOE said these could be reduced if “the companies quickly comply with certification requirements” before it files within 30 days actions either in the United States District Court or with an Administrative Law Judge.

GE Ader30LN

image via GE

The legal arm of the DOE has been assertive of late in enforcing energy efficiency standards around appliances, including having removed 66 products from the market which failed to meet these standards; starting seventy-five enforcement investigations and actions, including the 27 new penalty cases announced; and leading to the certification of over 600,000 products with the Department of Energy.

“Overall, our enforcement message is simple: From now on, compliance with all aspects of DOE energy efficiency standards will be expected,” said DOE General Counsel Scott Blake Harris in a statement, “and those standards will be enforced. Effective enforcement of the Department’s efficiency standards will save energy and costs for American consumers and create incentives to reward those businesses that incur the risks and the costs needed to create more efficient products.”

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I am the editor-in-chief and founder for EarthTechling. This site is my desire to bring the world of green technology to consumers in a timely and informative matter. Prior to this my previous ventures have included a strong freelance writing career and time spent at Silicon Valley start ups.


  • Reply September 15, 2010


    I’m sorry but it’s more than past due. How is it possible that so many companies have been able to “verify” on their own that a product is Energy Star rated? I’ve even read about more than a few refrigerator manufacturers that had to remove their rating due to improper testing.

    Sure it’s great that everyone is buying energy efficient things but are they really energy efficient?

  • Reply September 16, 2010


    It seems like the goal of the DOE in filing these enforcement actions is less to impose penalties than to inform companies that DOE is serious about enforcing compliance. I’m pleased that DOE is stepping up to systematically enforce the energy efficiency standards that already exist.

    There was quite a bit of fuss in the plumbing industry a couple months ago when DOE announced a strict interpretation of the term “showerhead” and notified manufacturers that it planned to enforce the flow rate rules. More here: http://zeroresource.com/2010/08/24/why-is-doe-regulating-showerheads/

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