The U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) has announced more stringent criteria for clothes washers and additional categories of compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFL) under the ENERGY STAR label. The more stringent requirements for clothes washers carrying the ENERGY STAR label will take effect in two phases. In order to qualify, clothes washers must be a minimum of 43% more efficient than current federal energy efficiency standards with a maximum water factor (WF) of 7.5, as of July 1, 2009.
As of January 1, 2011, clothes washers must be a minimum of 59% more efficient with a maximum WF of 6.0. WF measures the water efficiency and is calculated as gallons of water used per cubic foot of capacity—the lower the WF, the more efficient the clothes washer.
In addition to the expansion of eligible product categories for CFLs, the new criteria limits, for the first time, the amount of mercury that CFLs can contain to less than 5 milligrams for most bulbs, expands the program to include candelabra-based CFLs, incorporates a third-party testing program for all bulbs effective in November of 2008, tightens lamp color requirements, and adds high-heat testing requirements for reflector products. Revised ENERGY STAR criteria for CFLs takes effect December 2, 2008 - 270 days from issuance of criteria.
Following the 2011 criteria change for clothes washers, consumers are expected to save $120 million on utility bills annually, 11.2 billion gallons of water, and 659 million kilowatt hours of electricity. Current ENERGY STAR-qualified clothes washers use 75% less energy than clothes washer models manufactured in 1980.