Partner Perspective

Standards highly effective at reducing energy use, IEA/ 4E study shows

Standards and policy programmes save consumers billions of dollars and avoid hundreds of millions of tonnes of CO2 emissions each year, according to new analysis from IEA and 4E.

Remco Takken September 30, 2021
Achievements of Energy Efficiency Appliance and Equipment Standards and Labelling Programmes

Policies that introduce minimum efficiency performance standards and energy-consumption labelling on appliances and equipment have led to reduced power consumption, lower carbon emissions, and cost savings for consumers, according to analysis published by the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the 4E Technology Collaboration Programme (4E TCP).

100 countries

‘Achievements of Energy Efficiency Appliance and Equipment Standards and Labelling Programmes’ is a compiled effort. It’s drawn from nearly 400 evaluation studies covering 100 countries. The report confirms that improvements to the energy efficiency of appliances and equipment are some of the lowest-cost options available today for reducing energy consumption and associated emissions, with typical society benefit/cost ratios of 4:1. Programmes that have been operating the longest, such as those in the United States and the European Union, are estimated to deliver annual reductions of around 15% of total current electricity consumption. This percentage increases each year as more of the older, less-efficient stock is replaced with equipment that meets new higher efficiency standards. These programmes provide net financial benefits to individuals and the community. Other benefits, including employment, product innovation, water savings, improvements in air quality and the reduction of public expenditure on health, add to the case for stronger standards and labels.

Positive impacts

The study shows the policies have had significant positive impacts. In countries with long-running policies, appliances are now typically consuming 30% less energy than they would have done otherwise. In the nine countries/regions for which data were available, such programmes reduced annual electricity consumption by a total of around 1,580 terawatt-hours in 2018 – similar to the total electricity generation of wind and solar energy in those countries. These energy savings represent a significant financial boon for businesses and householders. In the United States alone, utility customers are now economising USD 60 billion each year, or USD 320 per customer. Also, the United States, European Union and China together are avoiding annual CO2 emissions of more than 700 million tonnes, equivalent to the total energy-related emissions of Germany.

Economies of scale

Well-designed policies encourage product innovation and lead to economies of scale, which reduces the cost of appliances even without accounting for the efficiency gains. For example, in Australia the sticker price of appliances has typically fallen 40% over the last 20 years, while average energy consumption has fallen by a third. “The message is simple: expanding standards and energy efficiency labelling programmes makes the energy transition challenge easier, more affordable and become a reality,” said Jamie Hulan, the Chair of the 4E TCP. The IEA will continue to collaborate with 4E TCP to enhance and promote the use of such policies. 4E TCP is an international platform for fourteen countries and the European Union to exchange technical and policy information focused on increasing the production and trade in efficient end-use equipment.

COP26

Ahead of this November’s COP26 Climate Change Conference, the IEA is working with the UK Government via the Super-Efficient Equipment and Appliance Deployment (SEAD) initiative to coordinate and improve international action on product energy efficiency. The United Kingdom is leading the COP26 Product Efficiency Call to Action, which aims to double the efficiency of key global products by 2030, initially focusing on four key energy-consuming products: air conditioners, refrigerators, lighting and industrial motors systems. The IEA is supporting the implementation of this work and helping expand the number of countries ready to make this commitment.

Download ‘Appliance and Equipment Standards and Labelling Programmes’ here