Appliance Efficiency Standards:

Issues Needing Resolution by DOE

EMD-82-78: Published: May 14, 1982. Publicly Released: May 14, 1982.

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The National Energy Conservation Policy Act directs the Secretary of the Department of Energy (DOE) to prescribe energy efficiency standards for each of the 13 major household appliances. In April 1982, DOE published new proposed rules and concluded that no appliance standards should be established. GAO evaluated the DOE efforts to develop appliance efficiency standards.

The DOE basis for its proposal that no appliance efficiency standards be established is highly questionable. The analyses in support of the DOE proposal contain an unvalidated key assumption, are inconsistent in their treatment of the effects of market forces, and use high energy price projections. The DOE revision of its June 1980 standards proposal appears to have potential, because it addressed major appliance industry concerns and contained standards levels which could benefit consumers. However, this revision was never published for comment, because the Administration decided to review the standards development process. Two issues related to a no standards decision by DOE are the: (1) implications such a decision will have for existing State appliance standards programs; and (2) extent to which the Federal appliance labeling program will, through enhanced consumer awareness, increase the number of high efficiency appliances being purchased.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Energy should make no decision on the need for appliance efficiency standards until he considers and resolves the discussed issues. The Secretary should either demonstrate more conclusively for each appliance that a determination of no standard is justified or prescribe an appropriate energy efficiency standard.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy


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