FTC Amends Appliance Labeling Rule to Ease Burdens on Businesses

FTC Amends Appliance Labeling Rule to Ease Burdens on Businesses
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As part of an ongoing, thorough review of its Appliance Labeling Rule, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) 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 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.

The FTC is also 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.