Consensus agreements for new national appliance and equipment standards are the result of negotiations between industry and efficiency proponents (e.g. efficiency, consumer and environmental advocacy groups, state governments and utilities). Parties negotiate for various reasons. Industry wants to avoid a patchwork of state standards or prefers the certainty of a negotiated proposal over a Department of Energy (DOE) rulemaking decision. Efficiency supporters want to reduce energy and/or water use, save consumers money and reduce environmental impacts without impairing product performance. They want theses benefits to be achieved nationally and, like industry, prefer the certainty of a consensus proposal. Industry and efficiency supporters both benefit from the flexible approaches to new standards that can be achieved through negotiation.
When these groups with disparate needs and interests agree on new standards, Congress and DOE often listen. Negotiated appliance standards were adopted in several laws to date including the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act of 1987, the Energy Policy Acts of 1992 and 2005, and the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. In the laws, Congress set specific standards for some products and instructed DOE to develop standards for others. Congress also instructed DOE to update standards periodically. About a third of the updated standards completed by DOE over the past twenty years have been based on consensus agreements; the others were completed by the agency through a normal federal rulemaking process.
The most recent consensus agreement was signed on August 3, 2010 between various efficiency supporters and the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM). Parties to the negotiation agreed to updated national standards for dishwashers, dryers, clothes washers, refrigerators, freezers and room air conditioners. The signed agreement was submitted to both Congress and to DOE, either of which can adopt the standards.
Additional Information on Recent Consensus Agreements
- Implementation of National Consensus Appliance Agreements Act (11/2011)
- Major Home Appliance Agreement Press Release (8/2010)
- Major Home Appliance Agreement Power Point Overview (8/2010)
- Major Home Appliance Agreement Text (7/2010)
- Furnace, AC and Heat Pump Agreement Text (1/2010)
- Fact Sheet on Furnace, AC and Heat Pump Efficiency Standards Agreement (2009) (10/2009)