New York State Begins Phase-Out of Inefficient Appliances in Effort to Decarbonize Buildings

One year after the adoption of New York’s Advanced Building Codes, Appliance and Equipment Efficiency Standards Act, New York has new minimum energy efficiency standards for products and appliances. The standards, which apply to products and appliances not subject to the federal appliance standards promulgated by the U.S. Department of Energy – such as certain air purifiers, gas fireplaces, and electric vehicle supply equipment (“EVSE”) – were adopted by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (“NYSERDA”) on December 2022 and went into effect on June 26, 2023. Energy efficiency standards are critical for reducing consumer’s electric bills and decarbonizing buildings and are just one more tool in New York’s toolbox to help achieve New York’s statewide targets of reducing emissions by 40% by 2030 and no less than 85% by 2050, as required by the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (“CLCPA”).

The new efficiency standards, which are available on NYSERDA’s website, cover 21 product categories and align with existing appliance efficiency standards in other states. With respect to certain products for which the Department of Energy has waived federal preemption, the new standards go above and beyond the federal minimum standard. NYSERDA expects that the new standards will save $265 million annually on consumer utility bills by 2035 and cut greenhouse gas emissions by 807,000 metric tons by reducing wasted energy from the use of less efficient products and appliances.

The New York Climate Action Council’s Scoping Plan recognized the need to transition to zero-emission appliances to achieve widespread building decarbonization. In fact, the Scoping Plan cited the need for energy efficiency standards “as soon as possible”, with approximately 1-2 million homes made energy efficient by 2030, to reach the CLCPA’s greenhouse gas reduction targets. Proponents of the new efficiency standards say that the new standards will effectively remove the worst performing products from the market, though when those products will effectively be phased-out is hard to determine. Some suspect that the new standards will have little immediate effect – namely because the new standards do not apply to products and appliances that were manufactured on or before June 26, 2023, thereby allowing retailers to sell any remaining non-compliant products that may remain in their inventories.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Energy is working to update federal appliance standards under the Appliance and Equipment Standards Program. Under the current program, some products that would meet the federal standards would fall short of New York’s new efficiency requirements. Energy Star products are automatically qualified to meet New York’s standards, and thus, the longstanding Energy Star program could see a revitalization as a result of New York’s new standards.

The good news for New Yorkers is that the new standards do not require that homeowners, business owners, or those that own EVSE run out and replace their existing, perhaps less efficient models. Rather, anyone who sells, rents, leases, or installs the regulated products and appliances is responsible for ensuring the products and appliances comply with the standards and NYSERDA may impose penalties for noncompliance. As these standards follow on the heels of New York’s recent gas ban, New Yorkers will start to see fewer and fewer fossil-fired and inefficient appliances and products on the market – which should be a welcome sign that New York’s efforts to electrify buildings are well underway.

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