Appliance Standards

Appliance standards represent a cost-effective strategy to protect consumers and businesses and strengthen the state’s clean energy economy. Efficiency products save energy and water, reduce long-term operating costs, and cut greenhouse gas emissions. On May 7, 2019, Governor Jay Inslee signed into law House Bill 1444, which adds 17 new products (PDF) to state standards last updated in 2009. 

The standards are estimated to save Washington consumers and businesses $2 billion in energy and water costs. 

Most standards take effect on January 1, 2021. The effective dates of standards in this legislation are based on date of manufacture, not the date of sale. Products already in stores or warehouses may be installed after the new standards take effect. The standards apply to manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and installers, rather than to individual consumers.

The bill includes a first-in-nation water heater standard. The design requirement for electric water heaters ensures that all new units have a standard communications port. This basic technology will support the electric grid of the future by enabling utility programs to manage water heating loads more effectively and reduce demand in peak periods.

Rules Development

Commerce started rulemaking in July and conducted two stakeholder workshops. It issued proposed rules (PDF) on November 6. The rules will be published in the Washington State Register on November 20. 

The updated WAC includes language from the 2019 legislation for implementation date, standard requirements and testing method. The language also adds both listing and marking requirements for each product. Listing refers to a process by which a manufacturer certifies products through a publicly available database to show compliance with known standards and testing methods. Marking refers to a physical mark on each unit or package of a product and indicates that the manufacturer has verified compliance of this product with existing standards. To minimize or avoid state specific listing and marking, the majority of products in this WAC update use existing mechanisms from state and federal programs, including ENERGY STAR® and California Title 20.

The new design requirement for electric storage water heaters was the most discussed standard at public meetings held in August and September. Several stakeholders expressed concern that the Jan. 1, 2021, implementation date did not provide enough time to redesign current products. This proposed rule reflects a compromise among suggestions from stakeholders: A phased implementation that maintains the proposed date of Jan. 1, 2021, for heat pump water heaters and suspends the implementation until Jan. 1, 2022, for electric resistance water heaters.

Rules Order

Commerce has completed rules for appliance standards. The new WAC rules will take effect on Feb. 6, 2020. Many thanks to everyone who participated in the rulemaking process.  

Rulemaking to Continue in 2020

Commerce’s rulemaking work on appliance standards will continue in 2020. Details about upcoming workshops and written comment opportunities are forthcoming. 

Legal Resources

Public Comments and Past Workshops


Appliance Standards Awareness project leads a broad-based coalition effort that works to advance new appliance, equipment and lighting standards.

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Need Help?

Sarah Vorpahl, Ph.D.,
Sr. Energy Policy Specialist
Phone: 360-688-6000