New Motor Efficiency Standards Save Energy and Money

Key Points

  • The U.S. Department of Energy recently published new motor efficiency standards.
  • The rules cover motors sold in the U.S. and are expected to save $16 billion through 2030.
  • The final compliance date is June 1, 2016, although there is no requirement for facilities to upgrade.

MotorEfficientyThe U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently published new energy-efficiency standards for electric motors manufactured for sale in the United States. These standards will reduce harmful carbon emissions significantly, saving U.S. businesses more than $16 billion through 2030, according to DOE projections.

Motors are widely used in commercial and industrial facilities. They consume more than half of the electricity used nationwide. They are employed in buildings for everything from powering pumps and fans to driving conveyor belts, elevators, and processing machines. An estimated five million motors were sold in the U.S. in 2013. A standard 30 horsepower motor uses 62,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year.

The new standards build on rules published in 2010, establishing energy-efficiency standards for motor types not previously covered, and amending energy conservation requirements for others.

Some motor types that were not regulated previously will now be covered, including partial motors, brake motors, and motors with blowers that are powered separately. Motors that will see efficiency improvements include gear motors used in equipment like escalators and conveyors, and vertical pump motors that are used in irrigation and many municipal water and wastewater systems. The newly published standards include motor sizes ranging from one to 500 horsepower.

The effective date of the new standards is July 28, 2014, with compliance required beginning June 1, 2016.

Optimize the energy performance of your motor systems

The new standards apply to motor manufacturers or importers; there is no requirement for your facility to upgrade. However, optimizing motor performance can reduce your operating costs significantly. Implement these maintenance and operational procedures to improve motor efficiency and extend equipment life.

  • Perform periodic checks. Check motors often to identify potential problems. Inspections should include noise, vibration, and temperature checks. Test winding and winding-to-ground resistance twice a year for potential insulation problems, and check bearings, lubrication, shaft alignment, and belts, periodically.
  • Identify and eliminate distribution system losses. Check for bad connections, poor grounding, and shorts to ground. Such problems are common sources of energy loss and may reduce motor reliability. Qualified technicians using electrical monitoring equipment and infrared cameras can identify these types of problems in your facility.
  • Minimize phase unbalance. Voltage phase balance in a three-phase system should be within the manufacturer’s recommendations to avoid motor derating and warranty issues. Several factors affect voltage balance, including varied cable sizing or faulty circuits. An unbalanced system increases distribution system losses and reduces motor efficiency.
  • Install controls. Motor controls save energy by adjusting motor speeds or switching them off when appropriate. For variable loads, variable frequency drives (VFDs) can reduce energy use by 50 percent. Load shedding controls can turn off idling motors during parts of the processing cycle.

Your electric utility offers rebates for the replacement of working motors with more efficient models. For more information, see our Save@Work section.


This article has been prepared solely for the purpose of providing helpful information to users of this service. The information has been compiled by Questline, a contractor to the NHSaves utilities; however, no representation is made by either Questline or NHSaves as to the completeness or accuracy of the information contained therein. In particular, some information may be incomplete, may contain errors or may be out of date. In addition, neither Questline nor NHSaves endorses any product or service mentioned therein.