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Changes to Energy Labeling Rule Adopted, Additional Modifications under Consideration

The Federal Trade Commission has amended the Energy Labeling Rule, which requires manufacturers to attach yellow EnergyGuide labels to a range of appliances. Specifically, the FTC is expanding coverage of the Lighting Facts label, requiring room air conditioner labels on packaging instead of the units themselves, enhancing the durability of appliance labels, and improving plumbing disclosure requirements. The amendments are effective 2 December, except for certain changes that will be implemented 2 November 2016 or 2 November 2017.

The FTC is also seeking input by 11 January 2016 on proposed amendments to the Rule that would require a new comprehensive label database on the U.S. Department of Energy’s website; new refrigerator comparability range information; labels for portable air conditioners, dual-mode refrigerators, and rooftop heating and cooling equipment; and revised labels for ceiling fans, central air conditioners and water heaters.

Established in 1979, the Energy Labeling Rule requires energy labelling for major home appliances and other consumer products to help consumers compare competing models. When first published, the Rule applied to eight product categories: refrigerators, refrigerator-freezers, freezers, dishwashers, water heaters, clothes washers, room air conditioners and furnaces. The Commission subsequently expanded the Rule’s coverage to include central air conditioners, heat pumps, plumbing products, lighting products, ceiling fans and TVs. The Rule requires manufacturers to attach yellow EnergyGuide labels for many of the covered products and prohibits retailers from removing the labels or rendering them illegible. In addition, it directs sellers, including retailers, to post label information on websites and in paper catalogues from which consumers can order products.

EnergyGuide labels for covered products contain three key disclosures: estimated annual energy cost (for most products); a product’s energy consumption or energy efficiency rating as determined from DOE energy test procedures; and a comparability range displaying the highest and lowest energy costs or efficiency ratings for all similar models. For energy cost calculations, the Rule specifies national average costs for applicable energy sources (e.g., electricity, natural gas, oil) as calculated by the DOE. The Rule sets a five-year schedule for updating comparability range and annual energy cost information.

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