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In 1975 the U.S. federal government established its role in improving appliance and lighting energy efficiency by setting voluntary labeling and efficiency guidelines for residential appliances and lighting products under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA, P.L. 94-163). In 1987 EPCA and subsequent legislation was amended and updated by the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act (NAECA, P.L. 100-12). NAECA superceded requirements established by some individual states and set the first national energy efficiency standards for home appliances. A schedule for regular updates, currently specified to 2012, was also established. NAECA standards now influence appliances and equipment comprising about 80% of the source energy in the U.S. residential sector.
Most research during the past 20 years on appliance standards has involved prospective estimates of impacts. (Bertoldi et al. 1997, McMahon and Turiel 1997). This paper utilizes publicly available information to report the observed impacts over almost a decade of experience with the actual residential appliance standards that were adopted and implemented in the U.S. The energy savings, the energy cost savings, and the carbon emissions reductions that have already occurred in response to appliance standards in the U.S. are large and significant. In fact, in 1997 alone, appliance standards were responsible for reducing total U.S. residential energy consumption by approximately 2.5%, thus saving US$3.5 billion in annual energy costs to residential consumers, and reducing associated carbon emissions in the residential sector by 2.5%. Benefits to consumers, the economy, and the environment will continue to flow from these standards and their updates for years into the future.