Developing an Energy Efficiency Standard

The process that DOE uses to develop an energy efficiency standard typically consists of the following four steps.

  1. Framework Document. The framework document describes the overall approach that DOE is considering in developing potential energy conservation standards for a particular product or equipment.
  2. Preliminary Analysis. The preliminary analysis presents a discussion of comments received on the framework document and is designed to publicly vet the models and tools that DOE intends to use in the rulemaking. Using these models and tools, DOE performs preliminary analyses to assess candidate standard levels (CSLs), which span the range of efficiencies from baseline equipment to the most efficient technology.
  3. Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR). The NOPR presents a discussion of comments received in response to the preliminary analysis, DOE's analysis of the impacts of potential standards on consumers, manufacturers, and the nation, DOE's weighting of these impacts, and any proposed standard levels for public comment.
  4. Final Rule. The final rule presents a discussion of comments received in response to the NOPR, revised analysis, as appropriate, of the impacts of any standards, DOE's weighting of those impacts, and the standard levels, if any, that DOE is adopting. The final rule also establishes the date by which manufacturers must comply with any standards.

Framework Document

DOE prepares a framework document to explain the relevant issues, analyses, and processes it anticipates using to determine whether to establish energy conservation standards, and, if so, to develop such standards. The framework document is intended to inform interested parties of the process DOE will follow and to encourage and facilitate the input of interested parties during the rulemaking process. This document is the starting point for evaluating energy conservation standards or energy use standards and is not a definitive statement on any issue to be determined in the rulemaking. DOE holds a public meeting to discuss the information presented and issues identified in the framework document and to solicit comments, data, and information from participants and other interested parties.

Preliminary Analysis

As an early part of the energy conservation standards rulemaking activity, a screening analysis typically is conducted, in which equipment technology options are identified and a preliminary determination is made as to whether to retain each option for detailed analysis or to eliminate it from further consideration. This process includes a market and technology assessment and a screening analysis. DOE applies four screening criteria in the screening analysis to determine which technology options to eliminate from further consideration: (1) technological feasibility; (2) practicability to manufacture, install, and service; (3) adverse impacts on equipment utility or availability; and (4) adverse impacts on health or safety. Technologies that pass through the screening analysis are evaluated, and referred to as design options, in the engineering analysis.

As part of the preliminary analysis, EES consults with interested parties and researches industry literature to identify the design options or efficiency levels that DOE will consider in the rulemaking. EES uses these design options or efficiency levels to collect manufacturer cost data, historical shipment data, shipment-weighted average efficiency data, and preliminary manufacturer impact data (e.g., capital conversion expenditures, marketing costs, and research and development (R&D) costs).

Using these data, the EES group conducts other analyses as part of the preliminary analysis, including:

  1. engineering analysis;
  2. markups analysis;
  3. energy use analysis;
  4. consumer life-cycle cost (LCC) and payback period (PBP) analyses;
  5. shipments analysis; and
  6. national impact analysis (NIA), which considers national energy savings (NES) and consumer net present value (NPV).

EES will present the results of these analyses in the preliminary analysis technical support document (TSD).

Based on the preliminary results of these analyses, EES recommends to DOE CSLs from the energy efficiency levels considered in the preliminary analysis. In addition to the efficiency level corresponding to the maximum technologically feasible ("max-tech") efficiency level, the considered efficiency levels or design options that span the full range of technologically achievable efficiencies. The range of efficiency levels DOE typically analyzes includes the following:

  • The baseline efficiency level. The baseline efficiency level typically represents equipment with the lowest energy efficiency on the market. For equipment where minimum energy conservation standards already exist, the baseline efficiency level is typically defined by the existing energy conservation standard.
  • The highest energy efficiency level or lowest energy consumption level that is technologically feasible (i.e., max-tech).
  • Levels that incorporate noteworthy technologies or fill large gaps between other efficiency levels being considered.

EES uses analytical models and tools to assess the different equipment classes at each efficiency level analyzed. Many of these analytical models and tools are in the form of spreadsheets used to conduct the LCC and PBP analyses and to determine the NES and NPV of prospective standards. Discussion of various CSLs in the preliminary analysis helps interested parties review the spreadsheet models that underpin the analyses. DOE uses comments from interested parties to refine the models for the next stage of the rulemaking analyses.

DOE makes the spreadsheet tools and results of the preliminary analysis available on its website for review.[1] When it publishes the preliminary analysis, DOE also makes a preliminary TSD available, which contains the details of all the analyses performed to date. After publication of the preliminary analysis, DOE provides a public comment period and holds a public meeting to discuss these analyses.

Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR)

In developing the NOPR, DOE considers the comments received during the comment period on the preliminary analysis. This process can result in revisions to the analyses conducted during the preliminary analysis stage. EES conducts the additional economic and environmental impact analyses for the NOPR. These analyses generally include:

  1. LCC analysis for user subgroups ;
  2. utility impact analysis;
  3. employment impact analysis ;
  4. emissions analysis;
  5. monetization of emissions; and
  6. regulatory impact analysis.

DOE describes the methodology used and makes the results of all the analyses available on its website for review. This analytical process results in the selection of proposed standard levels, if any, that DOE presents in the NOPR.

DOE considers many factors in selecting proposed standards. These factors are prescribed by EPCA and take into consideration the benefits and costs of energy conservation standards.

When DOE publishes the NOPR, it provides the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) with copies of the NOPR and TSD to solicit feedback on the impact of any proposed standard levels on competition in the market of the products that are the subject of the rulemaking. DOJ reviews standard levels to assess the impacts from any lessening of competition likely to result from the imposition of such standards. Publication of the NOPR is followed by a public comment period that includes a public meeting.

After publication of the NOPR, DOE considers public comments received on the proposal and accompanying analyses. DOE reviews the engineering and economic impact analyses and any proposed standards based on these comments and considers modifications where necessary. DOE also considers DOJ's comments on the NOPR relating to the impacts of any proposed standard levels on competition to determine whether changes to these standard levels are needed. DOE publishes the DOJ comments and DOE's response as part of the final rule.

Final Rule:

In any final rule, DOE sets any final standard levels and the compliance date and also explains the basis for the selection of such standard levels. The final rule is accompanied by a final TSD.


[1] All materials associated with DOE's rulemakings, product test procedures, and energy conservation standards are available on DOE's website.