Superefficient Appliances and Equipment: Untapped Energy Savings for Chinese Buildings

Publication Type

Conference Paper



China is now one of the most active countries in adopting new and revised appliance and equipment efficiency standards, with 57 mandatory standards as of mid-2014. But because China typically sets its standards iteratively and aim to eliminate only the bottom 20% efficiency models on the market, significant untapped efficiency gains beyond the mandatory efficiency level remain. As rising urbanization and incomes drive up Chinese residents’ appliance ownership and equipment usage, further improving the efficiency of key residential appliances can result in enormous energy savings. In this study, we seek to quantify the gap between the minimum efficiency in mandatory standards and the maximum technically feasible and cost-effective levels in the market today.

This study evaluates the energy savings potential of adopting maximum feasible share of cost-effective and superefficient technologies for major residential appliances in China through 2050, taking into consideration efficiency standards that have already been adopted as well as expected autonomous technological improvements over time. For the major product types of refrigerators, televisions, room air conditioners, clothes washers, and natural gas and electric water heaters, we surveyed product-specific efficiency levels and costs of both the current market average and the most efficient models on the market. We then developed a bottom-up energy end-use model to evaluate the potential energy savings from full penetration of superefficient appliances by 2050. Our results show that cost-effective efficiency improvements in key appliances and building equipment hold the second biggest energy-savings opportunity—after passive design—in the building sector with the potential to reduce total building energy consumption by 8% by 2050. These results have important policy implications, suggesting that more policies beyond standards may be needed to achieve the untapped energy savings that exist for major residential end-uses.


European Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ECEEE) Summer Study on Energy Efficiency, June 1-6, 2015

Year of Publication