New regulations target: Appliances

The Department of Energy is proposing to revise its regulations for walk-in coolers, freezers and commercial boilers as part of the agency’s push to increase energy efficiency in appliances.

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The department on Wednesday issued a pair of regulatory notices in support of the effort, which is a top priority for Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.

“Efficiency is going to be a big focus as we go forward,” Moniz told the 2013 Energy Efficiency Global Forum in his first speech after being sworn in last spring.

“We recognize that there is a backlog of appliance standards that are waiting to be approved and implemented,” he said. “I can assure you that I will certainly be turning my attention to this logjam very early on.”

The agency is proposing to revise the way manufacturers of walk-in coolers and walk-in freezers are certified as complying with new energy conservation standards. Specifically, the agency is considering whether to allow a computer-based system known as the “alternative efficiency determination method” to certify large coolers and freezers are meeting energy standards.

The method is less costly than manual testing.

“These computer modeling and mathematical tools, when properly developed, can provide a relatively straightforward and reasonably accurate means to predict the energy usage or efficiency characteristics of a basic model of a given covered equipment type,” the agency said. “These tools can be useful in reducing a manufacturer’s testing burden.”

Revised draft regulations will be published in Friday’s edition of the Federal Register, beginning a 30-day public comment period for the proposal.

The Energy Department is also launching a separate rule-making effort for commercial packaged boilers. While still in the early stages, that initiative also involved testing procedures to measure energy efficiency.

A second notice to hit Friday’s Register requests information about how those regulations might work. Members of the public and interested parties have 30 days to submit comments.