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January/February 2009

Energy Usage

Determining and potentially reducing the amount of energy expended by vacuum cleaners is the purpose of a proposed new ASTM International standard, WK21491, Test Method for Determining Energy Consumption of Vacuum Cleaners Relative to Cleaning. The proposed standard is being developed by Task Group F11.20.04 on Energy Usage and Performance, under the jurisdiction of Subcommittee F11.20 on Performance (Test Methods). F11.20 is part of ASTM International Committee F11 on Vacuum Cleaners.

According to Ron Battema, Compliance Consulting Inc., and a Committee F11 member, the impetus behind the development of WK21491 was discussions that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Wal-Mart have had with the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers. The AHAM Floor Care Council voted to have the EPA develop an Energy Star program for vacuum cleaners and also requested that Committee F11 develop test methods that will calculate the amount of energy used by a vacuum cleaner relative to cleaning carpet.

Battema says that developing the proposed standard “is a two-part process. The first part is to develop a method for measuring the power consumption of the vacuum cleaner using methods already contained in other standards, then calculating the amount of energy used over time. The second step is to develop a simplified cleaning procedure to relate the amount of energy used to cleaning effectiveness, thus providing an overall energy efficiency rating.”

Manufacturers will use the proposed standard to develop and improve products, while the EPA Energy Star program will use it to apply ratings to those vacuum cleaners that qualify. “Ultimately, it will be the consumers who will benefit by having a program in place that helps them determine the best product for their use,” says Battema. “It is important to remember that only the top 25 percent of products submitted will be eligible for Energy Star. These will represent the vacuum cleaners that provide the most efficient energy use and highest cleaning efficiency.”

Committee F11 welcomes participation in its standards developing activities. “Committee F11 and Task Group F11.20.04 are always looking for companies, organizations and interested individuals to help in the development and application of new standards,” says Battema, who notes that organizations and individuals that would fall into the general use category are especially sought by F11.


Technical Information: Ronald Battema, Compliance Consulting Inc., Bristol, Tenn.

Phone: 423-646-4209

ASTM Staff: Brynn Murphy

Phone: 610-832-9640