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First-Ever Energy Star Specification Issued for Smart Thermostats

The Environmental Protection Agency recently finalised its first-ever Energy Star specification for smart thermostats, which are Wi-Fi enabled devices that automatically adjust heating and cooling temperature settings for optimal performance. The agency estimates that the average consumer using an Energy Star certified smart thermostat will save more than eight percent of his/her heating and cooling energy costs, amounting to approximately US$50 annually. If all thermostatically controlled heating and cooling in the United States achieved savings of this level, it would total 56 billion BTU and offset 13 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions, equivalent to the emissions of 1.2 motor vehicles each year.

For this new product category, Energy Star recognition will be awarded to a product based on both hardware and service elements. The device on the wall and the service supporting its smart functionality must meet criteria included in the Energy Star specification, such as being able to work as a basic thermostat in absence of connectivity to the service provider, providing residents some form of feedback about the energy consequences of their settings, providing information about HVAC use (such as monthly run time), providing the ability to set a schedule, and providing functionality to work with utility programmes to prevent brownouts and blackouts while preserving the ability of consumers to override those grid requests. For the first time, this specification relies on analysis and aggregation of field data, rather than a laboratory test, to factor in the way the devices are used and ensure savings in-use.

The effective date for the first (Version 1.0) Energy Star specification for smart thermostats (formally known as connected thermostat products) was 1 January 2017. Manufacturers new to the Energy Star programme may submit a partnership agreement to initiate the application process while existing partners only need to send an email expressing their intention to certify products to the new specification. Existing partners may also submit a new participant form adding smart thermostats if doing so is helpful for their recordkeeping. All new products must be certified by an EPA-recognised certification body before being labelled and marketed as Energy Star certified. Upon satisfactory completion of all certification requirements, a certification body will notify the partner that the product is Energy Star certified and will submit certified product data to the EPA for listing on the Energy Star website.

Energy Star is a voluntary labelling programme designed to identify and promote energy-efficient products to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Energy Star label is now available on more than 40 different kinds of products, including home electronics, clothes washers, dehumidifiers, dishwashers, refrigerators and freezers, room air conditioners, commercial fryers, commercial hot food holding cabinets, commercial solid door refrigerators and freezers, commercial steam cookers, computers and other office equipment, and lighting.

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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