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Revisions Made to Energy Labelling Rule

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission recently announced several amendments to the Energy Labelling Rule for home appliances. This Rule was issued in 1979 pursuant to Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975, which required the U.S. Department of Energy to develop test procedures to measure how much energy was being used by home appliances and provide average usage to help consumers compare competing models.

The Rule includes labelling requirements for refrigerators, refrigerator-freezers, freezers, dishwashers, water heaters, clothes washers, room air conditioners, furnaces, central air conditioners, heat pumps, plumbing products, lighting products, ceiling fans and televisions. It requires manufacturers to attach yellow EnergyGuide labels to many of the covered products and prohibits retailers from removing these labels or rendering them illegible. In addition, it directs sellers to post label information on websites and in catalogues from which consumers can order products.

EnergyGuide labels for most covered products contain three key disclosures: estimated annual energy cost, a rating on energy consumption or energy efficiency as determined by DOE test procedures, and a comparability range displaying the highest and lowest energy costs or efficiency ratings for similar models. The Rule requires marketers to use national average costs for applicable energy sources (e.g., electricity, natural gas or oil) as calculated by the DOE in these cost calculations. Under the Rule, the FTC periodically updates comparability range and annual energy cost information based on data submitted by manufacturers.

The announced changes to the Rule are relatively minor. Section 305.3 (description of covered products) has been subdivided into four different provisions organised by general product category (appliances, furnaces and central air conditioners, lighting and plumbing). Section 305.11 has been divided into one section for general layout and formatting plus six additional sections covering label content for refrigerators, clothes washers, dishwashers, water heaters, room air conditioners and pool heaters. The FTC has also removed certain obsolete references (such as for plumbing products produced before 1994) and made minor corrections and changes to eliminate unnecessary cross references.

The changes will be effective on 30 November, although the FTC notes that to avoid any burden associated with these minor label amendments manufacturers may wait to implement any necessary changes until their next label print run.

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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