Energy and Economic Impacts of U.S. Federal Energy and Water Conservation Standards Adopted From 1987 Through 2020

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This paper presents estimates of the key impacts of U.S. national energy and water conservation standards adopted from 1987 through 2020. The standards for consumer products, commercial and industrial equipment, lighting products, and plumbing products include those set by legislation as well as standards adopted by the Department of Energy (DOE) through rulemaking.

In 2020, the standards saved an estimated 5.4 quads of primary energy, which is equivalent to 5.4% of total U.S. energy consumption, and 1.9 trillion gallons of water, which is equivalent to approximately 13% of the annual water withdrawals from the public supply in the U.S. The estimated reduction in CO2 emissions associated with the standards in 2020 was 251 million metric tons, which is equivalent to 5.5% of total U.S. CO2 emissions. The annual savings in operating costs for households and businesses totaled $83.8 billion, and the average household saved $508 in operating costs as a result of standards on residential appliances and plumbing products.

The estimated cumulative past and future energy and water savings from these standards amount to 231.6 quads of energy and 50 trillion gallons of water. The estimated cumulative CO2 emissions reduction from the standards comes to 10 billion metric tons. Accounting for the increased upfront costs of more-efficient products and the energy and water cost savings over the products’ lifetime, the standards have a cumulative net present value of benefit of $2,138 billion using 3 percent discount rate and $2,197 billion using 7 percent discount rate. 

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