A Roadmap to Achieve Equitable Access to Efficient Home Appliances
- Marti Frank, Efficiency for Everyone
- Suzanne Foster Porter, Kannah Consulting
- Chris Badger, VEIC
- Trish Cole, Pepco Holdings
- Charlotte Goodrich, Efficiency Vermont
- Adrien Kogut, Platte River Power Authority
- Paula Robertson, Sacramento Municipal Utility District
Opening price point (OPP) appliances, the cheapest models in the store, are an untapped savings and equity opportunity for the efficiency industry. OPP appliances sell in remarkably high volumes and are rarely efficient. Their purchasers have lower median incomes than buyers of higher priced appliances, nearly one-third are renters and nearly half are people of color.
New research conducted in 2021 and jointly funded by seven program administrators revealed five key market and technical barriers to appliances that are both low priced and high efficiency.
For each of the three product categories studied--clothes washers, refrigerators, and window air conditioners--the barriers differ and so too the strategies needed to address them.
Major manufacturers, for example, do make low-cost ENERGY STAR® refrigerators, but they are not available at retail, requiring a strategy in which retailers are encouraged to bring these models into stores. In contrast, the lowest-cost ENERGY STAR washers are available at retail but are still too expensive for many buyers, requiring an approach that incentivizes the design and manufacture of efficient but lower cost models.
This paper describes the research methods and findings, including engineering analysis of component- and feature-level differences between OPP and ENERGY STAR models. It also describes how the funding utilities will work to convene manufacturers, retailers, policy makers, and advocates in a collaborative effort to overcome the identified barriers and create more equitable access to efficient home appliances for buyers shopping at the lowest price points.Download PDF (new tab)