Green groups cheer new refrigerator standards

Green groups are cheering new efficiency standards for household refrigerators that kick in next week and are expected to cut energy use and save consumers money.

The new refrigerator standards will help to "significantly bring down the cost of running a typical refrigerator," says Marianne DiMascio of the Appliance Standards Awareness Project. 

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According to the Department of Energy (DOE), the new efficiency standards will reduce energy use by as much as 25 percent on new refrigerator models that are manufactured after the rules go into effect on Monday.

That's enough energy savings to power a quarter of all the homes in the U.S. for one year, DiMascio said. 

The DOE estimates these rules will save consumers $36 billion over the next 30 years, even after factoring in the higher up-front costs of buying these new refrigerators. 

Put another way, this would save consumers $215 to $270 each year on their electricity bills compared to 1978 when the agency began regulating the efficiency of refrigerators, says Elizabeth Noll of the Natural Resources Defense Council. 

Beyond consumer savings, the efficiency standards will also be good for the environment, green groups say. Over the next 30 years, the DOE estimates they will cut carbon emissions by equivalent to taking 70 million cars off the road for one year. 

"The refrigerator standards were last updated in 2001, but with improvements in refrigeration technologies and innovation on the part of manufacturers these new standards — not surprisingly — offer a significant reduction in energy use," Noll said.