Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

New Standards for Electric Motors Would Save Consumers Boatloads of Cash

Business

By Meg Waltner

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Like the vast majority of Americans, you probably don’t spend a lot of time thinking about electric motors in the 1-to-500 horsepower range. Astoundingly, though, these motors consume about 50 percent of all the electricity used by industry in the U.S. 

That’s right: 50 percent.

That’s why the issuance today of long-overdue proposed energy-efficiency standards for electric motors by the U.S. Department of Energy is particularly important news. What’s more, these proposed standards were set at levels supported by both motor manufacturers and efficiency advocates, including NRDC. When you have advocates and manufacturers agreeing on efficiency standards for 50 percent of the U.S.’s industrial electricity use, that’s a big deal!

Like recently proposed efficiency standards for walk-in freezers and coolers, commercial refrigeration equipment and metal halide lamps, these electric motor standards will take a big bite out of U.S. energy consumption. In fact, over 30 years, the motor standards will save about seven quads of energy—that’s roughly equivalent to 1 trillion kilowatt hours of electricity, enough electricity to power almost every home in the U.S. for a year. The money savings aren’t chump change either; over 30 years, they’re estimated to save consumers approximately $23.3 billion total. Add to that cumulative carbon dioxide reductions of nearly 400 million metric tons—about the same as taking 82.5 million cars off the road for a year—and you’ve got a pretty impressive package. The new standards can have another important impact, too. That impact can be felt across the globe, where U.S. standards are influencing overseas manufacturers to improve the efficiency of their motors, too.

Graphic credit: U.S. Energy Information Administration

All this is great news not just for our climate and our wallets but also for U.S. industry and jobseekers. While most of us don’t really think about electric motors, every device or piece of equipment that uses electricity to make something move most likely uses a motor to do that work. Across the United States, buildings and industry employ electric motors, like the ones to which the proposed standards will apply, for everything from fans and pumps to elevators, conveyor belts and other applications. Today’s efficiency standards, once in effect, will cut costs for businesses and consumers, making industries more competitive in the global marketplace and here at home, too. Those money savings will mean more jobs for Americans as energy-savings dollars are reinvested throughout the economy. 

As I mentioned earlier, like many recent national efficiency standards, this one was negotiated among industry and a sizeable group of stakeholders, including NRDC and other efficiency advocates. While the proposed standard improves the efficiency of motors, the biggest savings come from significantly expanding the types of motors covered by the standards. Under the proposed standard almost all motors between 1-500 horsepower would have to meet the required efficiency levels.

The motor standard is one of several efficiency standards that has been long-delayed. DOE recently committed to meeting deadlines for these standards, and it’s great to see the agency follow through on this commitment. NRDC played a big role in getting DOE back on track, as a participant in a coalition that pushed DOE forward.

Electric motors and the energy-efficiency standards that make them better and more cost-effective are hardly top-of-mind for most of us. But by proposing new efficiency standards today, the Department of Energy put the importance of electric motors into focus, offering American industry and consumers an opportunity to cut costs, save energy and minimize pollution, too.

This piece originally appeared on the NRDC Switchboard blog.

Visit EcoWatch’s SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS page for more related news on this topic.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Much of Eastern Oklahoma, including most of Tulsa, remains an Indian reservation, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday. JustTulsa / CC BY 2.0

Much of Eastern Oklahoma, including most of Tulsa, remains an Indian reservation, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday.

Read More Show Less
The Firefly Watch project is among the options for aspiring citizen scientists to join. Mike Lewinski / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 2.0

By Tiffany Means

Summer and fall are great seasons to enjoy the outdoors. But if you're already spending extra time outside because of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be out of ideas on how to make fresh-air activities feel special. Here are a few suggestions to keep both adults and children entertained and educated in the months ahead, many of which can be done from the comfort of one's home or backyard.

Read More Show Less
People sit at the bar of a restaurant in Austin, Texas, on June 26, 2020. Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordered bars to be closed by noon on June 26 and for restaurants to be reduced to 50% occupancy. Coronavirus cases in Texas spiked after being one of the first states to begin reopening. SERGIO FLORES / AFP via Getty Images

The coronavirus may linger in the air in crowded indoor spaces, spreading from one person to the next, the World Health Organization acknowledged on Thursday, as The New York Times reported. The announcement came just days after 239 scientists wrote a letter urging the WHO to consider that the novel coronavirus is lingering in indoor spaces and infecting people, as EcoWatch reported.

Read More Show Less
A never-before-documented frog species has been discovered in the Peruvian highlands and named Phrynopus remotum. Germán Chávez

By Angela Nicoletti

The eastern slopes of the Andes Mountains in central Perú are among the most remote places in the world.

Read More Show Less
Left: Lemurs in Madagascar on March 30, 2017. Mathias Appel / Flickr. Right: A North Atlantic right whale mother and calf. National Marine Fisheries Service

A new analysis by scientists at the Swiss-based International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) found that lemurs and the North Atlantic right whale are on the brink of extinction.

Read More Show Less
Nobody knows exactly how much vitamin D a person actually needs. However, vitamin D is becoming increasingly popular. Colin Dunn / Flickr / CC by 2.0

By Julia Vergin

It is undisputed that vitamin D plays a role everywhere in the body and performs important functions. A severe vitamin D deficiency, which can occur at a level of 12 nanograms per milliliter of blood or less, leads to severe and painful bone deformations known as rickets in infants and young children and osteomalacia in adults. Unfortunately, this is where the scientific consensus ends.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Data from a scientist measuring macroalgal communities in rocky shores in the Argentinean Patagonia would be added to the new system. Patricia Miloslavich / University of Delaware

Ocean scientists have been busy creating a global network to understand and measure changes in ocean life. The system will aggregate data from the oceans, climate and human activity to better inform sustainable marine management practices.

EcoWatch sat down with some of the scientists spearheading the collaboration to learn more.

Read More Show Less