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New Energy Star specs for dishwashers, furnaces

July 22, 2011
New Energy Star requirements will limit use of water and electricity in dishwashers.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is updating Energy Star requirements for home dishwashers and furnaces. Starting January 20, 2012, both standard-sized and compact residential dishwashers will have to be between 10 and 20% more efficient than the non-Energy Star units of today if they are to meet the new Energy Star requirements. The new specs are also about 8% more stringent than those in place today.

Interestingly, the new specs incorporate a future provision for dishwasher cleaning performance. EPA has been criticized in the past for bestowing the Energy Star label on clothes washers that were energy efficient but which left clothes dirty. Critics argued that forcing consumers to wash clothes multiple times to get them clean defeated the purpose of the regulations. The cleaning performance guidelines for dishwashers look to be an acknowledgement of those arguments.

Energy Star for furnaces is changing on February 1, 2012 when, for the first time, the specs will begin recognizing different energy efficiency levels for different parts of the U.S.

The geography-based specifications have been tied up in Congress for the past few years. The broader powers granted EPA recently paved the way toward issuing the more stringent guidelines.

The furnaces that meet the new requirements for the southern half of the U.S. will carry a specific U.S. South Energy Star mark. The qualified furnaces in the South, where homes need less heat, will be up to 12% more energy efficient than baseline units. Qualified furnaces in the northern half of the U.S. including Canada will bear the standard Energy Star logo and will be up to 16% more energy efficient than baseline models.

More information on Energy Star qualified dishwashers: http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=revisions.residential_dishwashers

More information on Energy Star qualified furnaces: http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=revisions.furnace_spec

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