FTC Amends Appliance Labeling Rule to Ease Burdens on Businesses

Also Proposes Changes to Update Labels on Refrigerators and Clothes Washers

For Your Information

As part of an ongoing, thorough review of its Appliance Labeling Rule, the Federal Trade Commission is streamlining the reporting and testing provisions of the Rule, which requires energy efficiency labels for major household appliances and other consumer products.  The amendments also improve the availability of online energy information for consumers.  The agency also is seeking public comment on proposed changes to the EnergyGuide labels for refrigerators and clothes washers in the wake of new Department of Energy tests for measuring energy costs.

The Appliance Labeling Rule, to be known going forward as the Energy Labeling
Rule, was issued in 1979 under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act and calls for the familiar yellow EnergyGuide labels stating a product’s estimated annual operating cost and energy consumption, and a range for comparing the highest and lowest energy cost for similar models.  EnergyGuide labels appear on clothes washers, dishwashers, refrigerators, freezers, water heaters, room air conditioners, central air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, heat pumps, pool heaters, and televisions.

In March 2012, the FTC sought public comments on proposed changes to the Rule, as part of its systematic review of all current FTC rules and guides.  After reviewing the comments received, the FTC is publishing final amendments to the Rule, which harmonize FTC and Department of Energy (DOE) requirements. 

Under the Rule, manufacturers can meet FTC reporting requirements by using the DOE’s new web-based reporting system in lieu of submitting data to the FTC, and by providing the same report content that DOE requires under its certification regulations for most covered products.  The Rule clarifies the DOE testing requirements manufacturers must follow for obtaining the energy use information on their labels.

By harmonizing the requirements of the two agencies, the Rule changes eliminate duplicative requirements and ease the reporting burden on manufacturers.  The FTC will continue to review other issues raised during the regulatory review.

The changes also improve online information for consumers by requiring online sellers to post label images for products bearing the EnergyGuide or Lighting Facts label.  To enable website sellers to easily download manufacturer labels, the Rule requires manufacturers to post their EnergyGuide and Lighting Facts labels online.  Finally, the FTC is changing the Rule’s name to the “Energy Labeling Rule” to reflect the fact that the program’s coverage has grown beyond traditional appliances.

In a separate action, the FTC is seeking public comments on proposed changes to the EnergyGuide labels for refrigerators and clothes washers to help consumers compare products in the wake of new DOE tests for measuring energy costs.  In addition, the FTC is publishing updated comparative information on labels for other appliances.

For more information about EnergyGuide labels, read Energy Guidance:  Appliance Shopping With the EnergyGuide Label.

The Commission vote approving the publication of the Notice amending the Energy Labeling Rule was 5-0.  It is available on the FTC’s website and as a link to this press release, and will be published in the Federal Register soon.  (FTC File No. R611004; the staff contact is Hampton Newsome, Bureau of Consumer Protection, 202-326-2889.) 

The Commission vote approving the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding the proposed changes to the EnergyGuide labels for refrigerators and clothes washers was 5-0.  It is available on the FTC’s website and as a link to this press release, and will be published in the Federal Register soon.  Instructions for filing comments appear in the Federal Register notice.  Comments can be submitted electronically, and must be received by March 1, 2013.  All comments received will be posted at www.ftc.gov/os/publiccomments.shtm.  (FTC File No. R611004; the staff contact is Hampton Newsome, Bureau of Consumer Protection, 202-326-2889.)

The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them.  To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).  The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.  The FTC’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics.  Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

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