Statement by Noah Horowitz, NRDC Senior Scientist

SAN FRANCISCO (December 15, 2004) -- The California Energy Commission (CEC) today unanimously approved new appliance efficiency standards that will save energy, cut consumers' power bills and reduce air pollution. The standards will cover new products sold in California in 24 categories, including consumer electronics, swimming pool pumps and external power supplies. Upon full turnover of existing appliances, the standards will save more than 5,000 gigawatt/hours of energy per year, more than the amount of electricity used by all San Francisco residences.

NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) played a leading role in developing the new standards. Following is a statement by NRDC Senior Scientist Noah Horowitz.

"Once again, California is leading the way. It continues to have the world's most stringent and comprehensive energy efficiency standards. The appliance standards approved today will accelerate the adoption of commonly available technologies to help consumers and businesses save money and to protect the environment.

"Through its aggressive energy saving policies, California's electricity demand is growing at half the rate of the rest of the nation. During the 1990s demand grew by about 1 percent per year, matching the state's population growth and lagging far behind the 2.8 percent average annual growth of the state's economy.

"California's leadership is especially important because the federal government has been asleep at the switch when it comes to setting minimum efficiency standards for new appliances. Fortunately, California standards often become future state and federal standards. NRDC is working to promote the adoption of many of California's new appliance standards in other states in the Northeast and Northwest."


The CEC approved the new appliance standards under its Title 20 code. The standards cover the sale of new products in California in 24 consumer and industrial product categories and have varying effective dates beginning on January 1, 2006. Upon full turnover of existing appliances, the state will reduce its peak power demand by about 1,000 megawatts, which is the equivalent of two large power plants. Full turnover also will result in reduced power plant emissions of the global warming pollutant carbon dioxide by about 2 million metric tons per year. That is equivalent to taking 320,000 cars off the road. According to CEC estimates, the regulations will save about $2 billion by 2020.

Some of the product categories that the standards will cover include:

  • External power supplies -- These are the little black boxes or "AC adapters" that are used in consumer and office electronics to convert incoming AC (alternating current) power from the outlet to the DC (direct current) power needed to operate the product. The standard will cover wide-ranging products such as cordless and cellular phones, laptop computers and iPods.

  • Swimming pool pumps -- The more than 1 million residential swimming pools in California collectively represent a sizable percentage of peak power use. Most installed pumps are relatively inefficient. The new standard will force a shift toward more efficient, two-speed pumps and the use of controls.
  • Consumer electronics products -- Devices like TVs, DVD players, VCRs and compact audio systems continue to draw power even when they are turned off (as long as they are still plugged in). The new standard will greatly reduce the amount of power used by these devices when they are in the standby mode.
  • Television set top boxes -- The new standard sets limits for the power used by digital-to-analog set top boxes, which will be needed in 2008 and beyond to convert digital signals for viewing on older TVs.
  • Commercial refrigeration -- Efficiency standards were updated for several product categories including walk-in refrigeration and freezers, reach-in refrigerators and ice makers.
  • Certain lighting products -- The new standards set efficiency levels for certain classes of light bulbs, including incandescent light bulbs.

NRDC was the lone environmental advocate to participate in the year long Title 20 proceeding. The organization provided key technical support for several of the product categories, including external power supplies, ceiling fans, beverage vending machines and set top boxes.