TexasIsHot – Energy Efficiency

Appliances tips

Jul 21 2011

How Refrigerator Standards Have Saved Consumers Billions

What’s your favorite late night snack – that go-to treat that melts away the troubles of the day as you curl up in front of the TV? Perhaps it’s a creamy bowl of Rocky Road or maybe some delicious, spicy Szechuan chicken left over from a recent take-out feast. Refrigerator-finds like these may make you feel bad about indulging in guilty pleasures, but at least you don’t have to feel bad about how high your energy bill will be to cure your cravings. That’s because of innovative technology and meaningful energy conservation standards put into place by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Building Technologies Program.

In recent decades, the Energy Department has led technological innovation that vastly improved the energy efficiency of our refrigerators and freezers (and thousands of other household appliances). As a result, it’s a lot easier on your pocket and on the environment to keep that ice cream at peak frosty perfection. In fact, today’s refrigerators use only about 25 percent of the energy that was required to power models built in 1975. Even while continually improving efficiency to meet standards, refrigerators have increased in size by almost 20 percent, have added energy-using features such as through-the-door ice, and provide more benefits than ever before. Refrigerators today can be customized to fit consumer needs with touch-screen displays, glass doors, or even a beer tap.

Today’s refrigerators have been designed to save energy and money without detriment to capacity, functionality, or extra features. | Image source: Building Technologies Program

The dramatic rise in efficiency began in response to the oil and energy crises of the 1970s when refrigerators typically cost about $1,300 when adjusted for inflation, a hefty price to pay for an energy waster. Refrigeration labels and standards have improved efficiency by two percent per year since 1975. Due to research, useful tools, partnerships with utilities and other organizations, and market initiatives that helped enable refrigerator and other appliance standards, the Energy Department has helped avoid the construction of up to 31 1-GW power plants with the energy saved since the first Federal standards in 1987. That’s the same amount of electricity consumed by Spain annually.

The Department will soon have strengthened the standards for household refrigerators three times. Each time, manufacturers have responded with new innovations that enabled their products to meet the new requirements and often to exceed them. Refrigerators that performed above and beyond the minimum standards qualified for the ENERGY STAR label, motivated consumers to care about energy usage, and primed the market for continued efficiency improvements.

Decades worth of progressive energy-efficiency standards for refrigerators have translated into big savings for consumers. Compared to refrigerators of the 1970s, today’s refrigerators save the nation about $20 billion per year in energy costs, or $150 per year for the average American family.

The next proposed increase in refrigerator and freezer efficiency — scheduled to take effect in 2014 — will save the nation almost four and a half quadrillion BTUs over 30 years. That’s three times more than the total energy currently used by all refrigeration products in U.S. homes annually. It’s also the equivalent amount of energy savings that could be used to power a third of Africa for an entire year

The Energy Department is continuing to invest even more in future innovations for energy efficient products. So go ahead and indulge with those late night snacks and frozen treats. Your fridge has you covered.

To learn more about Appliance Standards and how they save consumers money go to the Building Technologies Program website.

Read More From Roland Risser, director of the Building Technologies Program, at Energy.Gov

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  • "In order to meet our goals, we need programs like the TexasIsHot campaign to help change the way people think about energy." - State Sen. Troy Fraser (R-Horseshoe Bay), Chairman of Senate Natural Resources Committee
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  • "If every Texas household adopted just a few of the dozens of energy efficiency strategies referenced on TexasIsHot.org, our air would be cleaner, our limited supply of natural resources would be better protected, and our wallets would be heavier..." Kip Averitt (R-Waco), Former State Senator and Chairman of Senate Committee on Natural Resources
  • ”The TexasIsHot campaign targets an important piece of the clean energy effort -- educating Texans on the way we use electricity and quantifying the financial and environmental costs associated with our use. By just reducing the amount of electricity we use and waste, TexasIsHot.org can show people how to save money..." State Sen. Kirk Watson (D-Austin)
  • "Fluctuating energy costs are really hurting Texas families and businesses, but by just making a few easy changes, Texans can cut down on energy waste. TexasIsHot.org is a tremendous resource which arms consumers with the information they need to save themselves money by becoming more energy efficient, and help our environment." State Sen. Rodney Ellis (D-Houston)
  • "Texas is the third fastest growing state in the nation with a net growth of 1,000 people each and every day. This brings many challenges including providing clean and affordable electricity. That is why I'm excited about TexasIsHot.org. This website is an instructional resource that will help Texans save on their energy bills at home and in the workplace..." State Rep. Phil King (R-Weatherford)
  • "Now, more than ever, Texans need to work together to conserve energy and to make more efficient use of the energy we consume. The TexasIsHot.org website is an extraordinary resource for people who want to save money and help conserve our precious natural resources..." State Rep. Rafael Anchía (D-Dallas)
  • "By partnering with the TexasIsHot Coalition we can extend our effort’s reach, leverage our resources, and ensure that Austin’s energy grid continues to be a test-bed for technologies, products, and services that will transform our state’s energy system." Brewster McCracken, Executive Director, Pecan Street Project
  • "The City of Houston is working harder than ever to make Houston green and energy efficient, but we need the help of every citizen. I would encourage everyone to take a moment to explore the TexasIsHot website to learn what we can all do to make Houston, and the rest of Texas, the green and energy efficient example for the rest of the nation." Mayor Annise Parker, Houston
  • "Energy efficiency is one of our top priorities. Partnering with the TexasIsHot Coalition will help us educate citizens and local businesses about energy-efficient practices in order to meet our goal of reducing residential and commercial electric use." Gavin Dillingham, Chief of Sustainable Growth – General Services Department, for the City of Houston
  • "We are excited about the new partnership that the City of Corpus Christi has entered into with the TexasIsHot Coalition. TexasIsHot.org provides a platform to educate policy makers, city employees and citizens on how to save money and help the environment by conserving energy..." Mayor Joe Adame, Corpus Christi
  • "I am excited that the City of Corpus Christi has joined the TexasIsHot Coalition and look forward to working with them to help Texans become smarter energy users. Energy efficiency is by far the best way for people to reduce their bills and help the environment, but we need education and outreach to make this happen." State Rep. Solomon Ortiz, Jr (D-Corpus Christi)
  • "Because of its fast growth and hot summers, Texas has to get smarter about energy conservation. I applaud the efforts of Corpus Christi and TexasIsHot to help businesses and residents reap the benefits of increased efficiency." Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (D-McAllen)
  • "Energy efficiency is the cleanest, quickest and cheapest way to get smart about energy use, saving both money and the environment. I applaud the TexasIsHot Coalition in their effort to educate Texans about the benefits of energy efficiency..." Luke Metzger, Director, Environment Texas
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