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New Energy Efficiency Standards Aim to Reduce Carbon Pollution
May 14, 2014

Freezer cases in a store
The new energy efficiency rule on walk-in coolers and freezers is expected to result in carbon dioxide emissions reductions of 62 million metric tons through 2030.

12 May 2014

As part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, which calls for efficiency standards that cut carbon dioxide pollution and save money by saving energy, the Energy Department on May 9 announced two new energy efficiency standards for electric motors and walk-in coolers and freezers. These standards combined will help reduce harmful carbon pollution by up to 158 million metric tons — equivalent to the annual electricity use of more than 21 million homes, the Energy Department said in announcing the rules on its website. Businesses would save $26 billion on utility bills through 2030, the department added.

“Energy efficiency is one of the fastest and most cost-effective ways to save money, cut greenhouse gas pollution and help businesses strengthen their bottom lines,” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. “By working with industry and efficiency groups, the Energy Department continues to make strong progress in developing appliance standards that save communities and businesses billions of dollars while strengthening U.S. energy security.”

Under the Obama administration, the Energy Department has finalized new efficiency standards for more than 30 household and commercial products, including dishwashers, refrigerators and water heaters. These standards, the department said, are estimated to save consumers nearly $450 billion and cut greenhouse gas emissions by more than 2 billion metric tons through 2030.

The department said the administration is committed to building on this momentum by establishing new efficiency standards that — when combined with the progress already underway — will reduce carbon pollution by at least 3 billion metric tons by 2030, equivalent to more than a year’s carbon pollution from the entire U.S. electricity system.

The President’s Climate Action Plan directs federal agencies to address climate change using existing executive authorities. The plan has three key pillars: cutting carbon pollution in America; preparing the country for the impacts of climate change; and leading international efforts to combat global climate change. In announcing the Climate Action Plan, President Obama said the United States must help other nations progress in adopting cleaner energy technologies and reducing carbon emissions at the same time those actions are taken domestically.

The United States is also working to facilitate private financial support to clean-energy projects in other countries, and Obama called for free trade in environmental goods and services, especially clean-energy technology, “to help more countries skip past the dirty phase of development and join a low-carbon economy.”

Another element of the climate change strategy is to enhance engagement with emerging economies such as India and China to reduce the use of substances with polluting byproducts.


Electric motors are used extensively in a variety of applications, such as industrial machines, conveyor belts and escalators. In 2013, the Energy Department said, approximately 5 million electric motors were shipped in the United States. A standard 30 horsepower electric motor consumes approximately 62,000 kilowatt-hours per year. The new standard will save consumers up to nearly $16 billion and prevent 96 million metric tons of carbon dioxide through 2030, according to the department.

In addition, the Energy Department issued final efficiency standard for walk-in coolers and freezers, such as the milk display at a supermarket. This standard will help cut energy bills by about $10 billion and result in carbon dioxide emissions reductions of 62 million metric tons through 2030, the department said.

The efficiency standards established May 9 will update the 2010 standards for electric motors and the 2009 standards for walk-in coolers and freezers. These standards incorporate feedback from industry, consumer and environmental advocacy groups and others and will go into effect three years after publication in the Federal Register for walk-in coolers and freezers and two years after publication in the Federal Register for electric motors.