Technicians at the National Institute of Standards and Technology found that icemakers consume 12 to 20% of the electricity used to run new refrigerators. And about three-quarters of that additional energy goes into running electric heaters that let the devices release ice cubes from molds. With refrigerators accounting for 8% of the total electricity consumed by over 110 million households in the U. S, that amounts to a lot of energy spent on ice cubes.
Currently, regulators don’t consider icemaker energy consumption when setting federal minimum efficiency standards for refrigerators. Nor is it factored into the voluntary Energy Star program, which requires energy use to be significantly lower than the regulatory limit. But the Dept. of Energy says it will boost the minimum efficiency standard by 25% over current levels starting in 2014. DoE also intends to include the electricity used by icemakers in regulatory tests after it studies the situation. In the meantime, DoE will add 84 kW-hr to the efficiency rating of every refrigerator equipped with an icemaker. But once a reliable, straightforward test is available, DoE will eliminate the “placeholder” value and use actual icemaker test results in efficiency ratings.