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Conservation Programs Relating to Consumer Products

The Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 was enacted for the purpose of serving the nation’s energy demands and promoting conservation methods.

The Secretary of Energy prescribes standards for consumer products that consume energy and are distributed in commerce for personal use by individuals[i].  Consumer products covered under the Act include: refrigerators, refrigerator-freezers, room air conditioners, central air conditioners and central air conditioning heat pumps, water heaters, furnaces, dishwashers, clothes washers, clothes dryers, direct heating equipment, kitchen ranges and ovens, pool heaters, television sets, fluorescent lamp ballasts, general service fluorescent lamps, general service incandescent lamps, incandescent reflector lamps, showerheads, faucets, water closets, urinals, metal halide and lamp fixtures.  The secretary is empowered to classify any other product as a consumer good[ii].

The Secretary of Energy prescribes or amends test procedures to measure energy efficiency, energy use, water use or estimated annual operating cost of a covered product during a representative annual use cycle or period of use[iii].

In order to identify and promote energy-efficient products, the Energy Star program was established.  The Energy Star program was created in 1992 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy in an attempt to reduce energy consumption and protect the environment through energy efficient products and practices.  The program aimed to reduce energy consumption, improve energy security, and reduce pollution through voluntary labeling of, or other forms of communication about, products.  The program proposed buildings that meet the highest energy conservation standards.

The Administrator of the agency and the Secretary of the energy department shall:

  • promote energy star compliant technologies as the preferred technologies in the marketplace for achieving energy efficiency and reducing pollution;
  • work to enhance public awareness of the energy star label, including by providing special outreach to small businesses;
  • preserve the integrity of the energy star label;
  • regularly update energy star product criteria for product categories; and
  • solicit comments from interested parties prior to establishing or revising an energy star product category[iv].


The Secretary shall appropriate industry trade associations and industry members to carry out a program to educate consumers and other persons.  The education program must relate to:

  • the significance of estimated annual operating costs;
  • the way in which comparative shopping, including comparisons of estimated annual operating costs, can save energy for the Nation and money for consumers; and
  • other matters that encourage the conservation of energy in the use of consumer products.


The steps to educate consumers include publications, audiovisual presentations, demonstrations, and the sponsorship of national and regional conferences involving manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and consumers, and State, local, and Federal Government representatives[v].

The Act also provides energy conservation standards for covered products.  The standards are designed to achieve the maximum improvement in energy efficiency deemed technologically feasible and economically justified[vi].

A manufacturer, distributor, retailer, or private labeler shall not make any representation in writing or in any broadcast advertisement concerning the energy consumption of a product or cost of energy consumed by that product, unless the product has been tested and the representation fairly discloses the results of that testing. The Federal Trade Commission prescribes rules governing the labeling applicable to certain categories of covered products[vii].

The Energy Policy and Conservation Act supersedes all state regulations insofar as such state regulations provide at any time for the disclosure of information with respect to any measure of energy consumption or water use of any covered product.

According to the Act it is unlawful for a manufacturer or private labeler to distribute in commerce any new covered product to which a rule under the Act applies, unless such covered product is labeled in accordance with the rules[viii].  The Act prohibits such acts.

A person knowingly violating provisions of the Act is subject to a civil penalty of not more than $ 100 for each violation[ix].

Moreover, violations on restriction on certain representations under the Act are declared to be unfair, deceptive acts or practices within the contemplation of the Federal Trade Commission Act[x].

[i] 42 USCS § 6292.

[ii] Id.

[iii] 42 USCS § 6293.

[iv] 42 USCS § 6294a.

[v] 42 USCS § 6307.

[vi] 42 USCS § 6295.

[vii] 42 USCS § 6293.

[viii] 42 USCS § 6302.

[ix] 42 USCS § 6303.

[x] Id.

Inside Conservation Programs Relating to Consumer Products