Eight Things to Know About Pump Efficiency Standards

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Here are regulations to know about when considering pump selections with efficiency in mind.

By Mark Handzel

In a little more than a year, U.S. pump manufacturers will be required to comply with new federal energy conservation standards for clean-water pumps. Here’s what water supply professionals and drilling contractors should know about the regulations as they consider pump selections with efficiency in mind.

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A Bit of History

The U.S. Department of Energy’s work on the Energy Conservation Standards for Pumps began in 2011, a collaborative effort among the DOE, pump manufacturers, energy advocates, and industry associations. The overarching goals of the new rule are to improve the security and reliability of the nation’s energy system by reducing the overall demand for energy.

The formal rule was introduced in January 2016, with a four-year window for pump manufacturers to comply with the efficiency standards. Manufacturers have a choice between redesigning existing products or discontinuing them. If pump models have not been recently redesigned, the DOE requires re-certification by the manufacturer to ensure compliance.

When and What

The Energy Conservation Standards for Pumps takes effect on Jan. 27, 2020, and targets five styles of clean-water pumps: end suction frame mount, end suction close coupled, inline, radially split multistage vertical inline, and submersible turbines.

Other parameters are Best Efficiency Point (BEP) pump power input: 1-200 horsepower; BEP flow rate: 25 GPM or greater; BEP head: 459 feet or less; temperature: 14-248 degrees Fahrenheit; and nominal speeds: 1800 and 3600 RPM.

Per the rule, submersible turbines complying with ANSI/HI nomenclature VS0 as described in ANSI/HI 2.2-2.2-2014 are 4-inch and 6-inch submersibles, frequently used in residential well water applications.

Efficiency Defined

The DOE has established a new metric to measure pump performance called the pump efficiency index (PEI). PEI consists of a ratio of the representative performance of the pump being rated over the representative performance of a pump that would minimally comply with any prospective DOE energy conservation standard for that pump type.

  • Pumps that meet the standard are assigned a PEI value of 1 or below
  • Pumps with a PEI less than or equal to 1 can be sold in the United States
  • Compliance with DOE Pump Energy Conservation Standards requires pumps perform to published performance data and be tested to DOE test standards
  • Pumps are rated using full impeller diameter only
  • Pumps can be rated as bare pump only; pump and motor; and pump, motor and variable speed drive (VSD).

The VSD Difference

While the goal of the DOE’s initiative was to improve the overall efficiency of pumps sold in the U.S. market, it also wants to encourage the use of variable speed controls in variable load systems to maximize energy savings. That’s why the standard allows two methods of determining PEI—constant load or variable load equipment classes. PEICL applies to pumps sold without variable speed controls; PEIVL applies to pumps sold with variable speed controls.

It’s important to note the variable load test method could be used to mask the deficiencies of an inefficient PEICL pump when a motor and VSD are added. On its own, a non-compliant pump that has not been upgraded for efficiency would not meet the DOE’s standard for PEICL.

It’s wise for those making pump selections to consider both PEICL and PEIVL with key emphasis on PEICL to confirm the pump they are considering has a rating of 1 or less in accordance with DOE standards.

Industry Assistance

In support of the DOE standards and to help manufacturers achieve compliance, the Hydraulic Institute introduced its own Energy Rating (ER) based on the DOE’s PEI calculation. The HI Energy Rating program consists of an energy rating portal and database, http://er.pumps.org/ratings/search, searchable by manufacturer, model number, and rating ID listed on the hydraulic energy rating label distributed with the pump.

Look for the Label

The ER label assures end users a pump not only meets DOE criteria for energy efficiency but has been tested for compliance in a third-party-certified test lab. The label provides estimated annual power savings for a specific pump along with the DOE-required PEI information.

Rebates Available

Pumps in the ER database can qualify for incentives and rebates by water utilities and power companies as a way to encourage energy conservation.

Long-Term Goal

According to the DOE, energy savings associated with the new standards could also produce environmental benefits by reducing emissions of air pollutants and greenhouse gases associated with electricity production. Over a 30-year period, the following cumulative emissions reductions could be realized:

  • 16 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2)
  • 73 thousand tons of methane (CH4)
  • 12 thousand tons of sulfur dioxide (SO2)
  • 23 thousand tons of nitrogen oxide (NOX)
  • 22 thousand tons of nitrous oxide (N2O)
  • 04 tons of Mercury (Hg).

While not all manufacturers have completed the steps for compliance, it’s expected that 25% of the poorest efficiency pumps will be eliminated from the market through this process, accomplishing the DOE’s goal of reducing energy consumption as well as carbon emissions.


Mark Handzel is Global Vice President, Product Regulatory Affairs & Compliance, Xylem Inc. He has served as a member of the U.S. Department of Energy Appliance Standards and Rulemaking Federal Advisory Committee’s Commercial and Industrial Pumps Working Group and on the Circulator Pumps Working Group.

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