Pool pumps are joining the ranks of products eligible for Energy Star certification.

The federal government was set  to release test specifications on Feb. 15 from a draft that was published in January.

In the final draft, pumps with an energy factor greater than, or equal to, 3.80 meet the Energy Star criteria. The energy factor is defined as the volume of water pumped in gallons per watt hour of electrical energy consumed by the pump motor.

“All the manufacturer has to do is test their product,” said Erica Porras, associate consultant at ICF International, the company that EPA has contracted to develop specifications.

“If their test data shows that they meet the levels, the certification body will approve it as being Energy Star-qualified. That certification body uploads that data to the Energy Star website and products are listed on the qualified product list.”

Though the designation will help consumers choose more energy-efficient options when selecting equipment, they’re not the only ones who will benefit from the certifications.

“The biggest impact for the industry is how outside organizations can use this information — for example, utility companies that offer incentive programs,” said Jeff Farlow, program manager of energy initiatives at Pentair Aquatic Systems in Sanford, N.C., who has been working with the EPA to launch the program. “The Energy Star mark makes it real easy to structure their rebate program. They can just say that if a product has the Energy Star label, it’s eligible.”

Setting product specs is only the first step. Test methodology and certification bodies must be approved. Then the program must be prepared for release to the public.

“Pool pumps are different than, say, refrigerators or water heaters, which are typically sold through big-box stores — direct consumer purchases,” Farlow said. “This technology needs a little more consumer education to make them aware of the energy savings available. They need to help the trade understand what the Energy Star label means.” 

Single-speed, multispeed, variable-speed and variable-flow pumps are all eligible for certification, and all must meet the same standard of energy use.

To qualify for the Energy Star designation, in addition to being energy-efficient, products must have the features expected by consumers. They must also save enough energy that a purchaser will be able to recoup additional costs through energy savings in a reasonable period of time. Also, efficiency in a product category must be achieved through broadly available, nonproprietary technologies offered by more than one manufacturer.

The final draft is available for viewing online at http://energystar.gov/products/specs/node/187.