Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA) Guide: An Overview

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Are you an importer or manufacturer of appliances and equipment in the US? The Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA) imposes test procedures, labeling requirements, and energy targets that may apply to your product.

In this article, we introduce the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA) and its parts, and we address common questions associated with the act.

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What is the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA)?

The EPCA was enacted in 1975 and since then has been amended by several acts. The act was a reaction to the oil crisis that was prevalent in the US during the early 1970s. Thus, one of the aims of the EPCA is to regulate products that use energy so that they become more energy efficient among other things.

Some other aims of the EPCA include:

a. Increasing the US’s energy production and supply

b. The reduction of energy demand

c. Providing additional powers to the executive branch to address disruptions in the supply of energy

Product scope

The following are some product categories that are regulated by the Act:

EPCA Programs

Here are some EPCA programs and their respective source of federal regulations:

a. State Energy Program (10 CFR Part 420)

b. Energy Conservation Program for Consumer Products (10 CFR Part 430)

c. Energy Efficiency Program for Certain Commercial and Industrial Equipment (10 CFR Part 431)

d. Federal Energy Management and Planning Programs (10 CFR Part 436)

e. Alternative Fuel Transportation Program (10 CFR Part 490)

For the purposes of this article, the subsequent sections of this article focus on regulations that mainly affect importers and manufacturers of consumer products.

10 CFR Part 430 – Energy Conservation Program for Consumer Products

Under Title III (on improving energy efficiency) of the EPCA, Part B introduces the “Energy Conservation Program for Consumer Products Other Than Automobiles”. This part of the act concerns consumer products that are designed to consume energy and, for certain products, water.

Part B of the act above is implemented through federal regulations which are contained in 10 CFR Part 430. The regulation establishes an energy conservation program for consumer products and contains performance standards and design requirements among other things within its provisions.

Scope

Here are some products that are covered by the regulation:

  • Convection microwave ovens
  • Coolers
  • Dehumidifiers
  • Dishwashers
  • Electric clothes dryers
  • Electric heaters

Standards

Subpart C of the regulation covers standards for certain product categories. These standards can be divided into two types:

a. Standards that concern products that use energy (called energy conservation standards)

b. Standards that concern specific products (which are faucets, showerheads, water closets, and urinals) that use water (called water conservation standards)

Here are a few product categories and their associated Energy standard equations for maximum energy use (kWh/yr) under subpart C of the regulation.

Refrigerators and refrigerator-freezers

The standards for such products are found in 10 CFR 430.32(a). The standards contained therein apply to products with a total refrigerated volume under 1104 liters or freezers with a total refrigerated volume under 850 liters.

Here are a few product classes (for those manufactured on or after September 15, 2014) and their associated standards:

a. Refrigerator-freezers-partial automatic defrost – 7.99AV + 225.0 (based on AV (ft3)) and 0.282av + 225.0 (based on av (L))

b. Upright freezers with manual defrost – 5.57AV + 193.7 (based on AV (ft3)) and 0.197av + 193.7 (based on av (L))

c. Chest freezers and all other freezers except compact freezers – 7.29AV + 107.8 (based on AV (ft3)) and 0.257av + 107.8 (based on av (L))

Cooking products

The standards for cooking products are contained in 10 CFR 430.32(j). Here are some cooking products (manufactured on or after June 17, 2016) and their associated standards:

a. Microwave-only ovens and countertop convection microwave ovens – shall not have an average standby power that exceeds 1.0 watts

b. Built-in and over-the-range convection microwave ovens – shall not have an average standby power that exceeds 2.2 watts

Dehumidifiers

The standards for such products are contained in 10 CFR 430.32(v). Depending on when the product was manufactured, additional requirements may apply.

If the dehumidifiers are manufactured on or after October 1, 2012, they shall have an energy factor that meets or exceeds certain specified values. For example, for those with a production capacity of up to 35 pints per day, a minimum energy factor of 1.35 (liters/kW h).

Test procedural requirements

Subpart B of the regulation contains test procedures for various products. Here are the following products and their corresponding section that contains the testing requirements:

  • Refrigerators and refrigerator-freezers – 10 CFR 430.23(a)
  • Freezers – 10 CFR 430.23(b)
  • Dishwashers – 10 CFR 430.23(c)
  • Room air conditioners – 10 CFR 430.23(f)

Small business exemptions

Manufacturers of products covered by 10 CFR 430 may be exempted from all or part of the energy conservation standards or water conservation standards. The exemption may last for up to 2 years after the effective date of the rule for which the exemption is allowed.

An application can be filed under subpart E of the regulation by following the requirements in 10 CFR 430.52.

To be eligible to make such an application, the manufacturer of the regulated product must not exceed $8 million in annual gross revenues from all its operations, inclusive of the manufacture and sale of the regulated products (counted from 12 months preceding the date of application).

10 CFR Part 431 – Energy Efficiency Program for Certain Commercial and Industrial Equipment

Part B and C of title III of the EPCA relating to commercial and industrial equipment are contained in 10 CFR Part 431. The regulation establishes an energy conservation program for certain commercial and industrial equipment. It contains performance standards and design requirements among other things within its provisions.

Scope

Here are some products that fall under the regulation:

  • Commercial heating products
  • Ventilating products
  • Water heating products
  • Commercial refrigerators and freezers
  • Commercial clothes washer
  • Walk-in coolers and freezers
  • Electric motors

Standards

The regulations comment on each product type and information relating to standards can be found under each product type heading. Here are some product types and the sections of the regulations containing their energy conservation standards:

  • Electric motors – 431.25
  • Commercial clothes washers – 431.156
  • Walk-in Coolers and Walk-in Freezers – 431.306
  • Refrigerated Bottled or Canned Beverage Vending Machines – 431.296

Labeling requirements

The regulations under this part contain labeling rules for certain types of products.

Electric motors

Under subpart B on electric motors, there are labeling requirements that involve marking a permanent nameplate of such a product with the following information:

a. The motor’s nominal full load efficiency

b. A Compliance Certification number

Walk-in Coolers and Walk-in Freezers

Under subpart R on such products, the panel nameplate must meet certain labeling requirements. The permanent nameplate should be marked with the following information:

a. The manufacturer or panel brand

b. One of the three statements listed in the regulation which states that the panel is designed and certified for use in the particular product type applications

Pumps

Under subpart Y on general pumps, there are labeling requirements that apply to pump units manufactured on the same date that compliance with any applicable standards is required.

The permanent nameplate should be marked with the following information:

a. The rated pump energy index – constant load (PEICL) – only for bare pumps and pumps sold with certain electric motors

b. The rated pump energy index – variable load (PEIVL) – only for pumps sold with certain motors

c. The bare pump model number

d. The unit’s impeller diameter – If transferred directly to an end-user. If otherwise, then space should be provided for the impeller diameter to be filled in

10 CFR Part 429 – Certification, Compliance, and Enforcement for Consumer Products and Commercial and Industrial Equipment

This part of the regulations covers certification procedures and requirements. Additionally, this part contains provisions relating to the enforcement authority of the Department of Energy (DOE).

Scope

The scope of this part includes both the product scope of part 430 and part 431. Although, note that this part of the regulation excludes exported products.

Certification requirements

Manufacturers are required to submit a certifying report to the DOE to demonstrate that their product meets the applicable standards. A certification report should include a compliance statement and the following information for each model:

a. Product or equipment type

b. Product or equipment class – as specified in part 430 and part 431 provisions containing the applicable standards

c. Manufacturer’s name and address

d. Private labeler’s name and address

e. Brand name

f. Basic model number and the manufacturer’s individual model numbers. Note that there are exceptions

g. Information about what the submission is for – e.g. submission for a new mode, etc

h. The test sample size – note that the regulation has specific instructions in the event that the test sample size is listed as “0”

i. The certifying party’s U.S. Customs and Border Protection importer identification numbers

j. Whether certification is based upon any waiver of test procedure requirements and dates of such waivers

k. Whether certification is based upon any exception relief from a standard and the date on which such relief was issued by the DOE

l. Product-specific information listed in parts 429.14 and 429.63

Compliance statement

The compliance statement is included in the certification report. The company official includes his details on the statement and certifies that:

a. The basic models comply with the applicable standards

b. All required testing has been conducted in conformance to the applicable test requirements contained in parts 429, 430, and 431 – unless the testing requirements are waived

c. All information in the certification report is true, accurate, and complete

d. The manufacturer knows of the penalties associated with violations of the EPCA and regulations which prohibit knowingly making false statements

The Energy Labeling Rule

Due to the EPCA, the Federal Trade Commission issued the Energy Labeling Rule. The rule requires energy labeling for consumer products to assist consumers in comparing the energy usage and costs of competing models. The rule is contained in 16 CFR Part 305.

Scope

Here are some products that fall under the ambit of this regulation:

  • Refrigerators
  • Freezers
  • Dishwashers
  • Water heaters
  • Clothes washers
  • Room and portable air conditioners
  • Central air conditioners
  • Plumbing products
  • Lighting products
  • Ceiling fans
  • Televisions

Labeling requirements

Manufacturers are required to attach yellow EnergyGuide labels to EPCA-regulated products. There are generally three main disclosures in such labels:

a. Estimated annual energy cost

b. A product’s energy consumption or energy efficiency rating as determined by the DOE’s test procedures

c. A comparability range displaying the highest and lowest energy costs or efficiency ratings for all similar models

Lab testing requirements

The information disclosed in the yellow EnergyGuide labels is determined by the testing and sampling provisions required by the DOE set forth in Parts 429.11, 430, and 431.

ENERGY STAR Program

The EPCA at section 324A establishes a voluntary program called the “ENERGY STAR Program”. The Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency both are tasked with identifying and promoting energy-efficient products and buildings.

The legislative aim of the program is to:

a. Reduce energy consumption

b. Improve energy security

c. Reduce pollution through voluntary labeling of products and buildings that meet the highest energy conservation standards

Labeling requirements

The certification mark is used as a label on products that have met the certification requirements (explained in the subsequent section). The certification mark may be added to the FTC’s EnergyGuide Label for products that have earned the ENERGY STAR.

To use the ENERGY STAR marks, organizations should join the EPA’s ENERGY STAR Program by signing a partnership agreement. Here are some requirements when using the marks:

a. The marks may not be altered

b. The marks should not be associated with products that are not certified

c. The EPA requires a clear space to surround the mark

d. The marks can be resized. However, proportions should be maintained

Certification requirements

Partners to the agreement (mentioned above) must certify product models before using the ENERGY STAR mark. To do this, an EPA-recognized laboratory must be approached to test the product.

Once the product has been tested, an EPA-recognized certification body must be engaged. The body should certify the results and submit information relating to the product to EPA.

Lab testing requirements

Lab testing requirements would depend on the type of product that one wishes to certify. Manufacturers should contact laboratories directly to determine whether the lab has the capability and availability to test the product as some products require special testing equipment.

Additionally, the manufacturer should confirm with an EPA-recognized certification body that the lab is acceptable for the product under the body’s program. The list of laboratories and certification bodies can be found here.

What are the consequences of non-compliance with the EPCA?

If your products are not in compliance with the EPCA, then the following outcomes may occur:

a. The DOE may compel you to immediately halt the sale of the products

b. The DOE may compel you to ensure that your products are compliant

c. The DOE may compel you to notify purchasers of said products

d. The DOE may impose civil penalties

e. Your product may attract legal suits

The above outcomes can result in substantial reputational damage (which to some represents a greater cost than facing civil penalties). Additionally, even when settling these penalties to avoid negative publicity, it may be the case that you would have to publicly disclose them depending on what corporate laws affect you and the size of the penalty.

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