What Are CEE Tiers and How Do They Apply to Home Appliances?

Couple looking at a washing machine in a department store

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CEE is the Consortium for Energy Efficiency. It describes itself as follows: "...[T]he US and Canadian consortium of gas and electric efficiency program administrators. We work together to accelerate the development and availability of energy-efficient products and services for lasting public benefit."

A nonprofit, CEE brings together energy efficiency program administrators such as your local gas or electric utility. Members from the US and Canada work together to develop market initiatives to promote the manufacture and purchase of energy-efficient products and services. CEE incorporates information from manufacturers, other nonprofits, research labs, and government agencies.

CEE Energy Rating

One major CEE initiative is the Super-Efficient Home Appliance Initiative (SEHA), which provides specifications of super-efficiency by establishing tiers of energy performance manufacturers may choose to meet for washers, refrigerators, dishwashers, and room air conditioners.

While consumers have become familiar with the Energy Star rating and the process for appliances to qualify, the CEE tier remains a mystery to many. But it's a rating that should not be ignored because it provides further details of energy efficiency, and that means energy savings to the consumer. According to Sears, "It uses the Energy Star rating coupled with the Modified Energy Factor (MEF) and Water Factor (WF) to assess energy efficiency."

Here's how the ranking works:

  • In most cases, CEE Tier 1 is the same as the qualification for an Energy Star rating. When there are higher tiers for a product, it means that higher performance is available, usually with a cost-effective payback period. Products that are ranked at Tier 1 or higher represent the top 25% of appliances on the market relative to energy efficiency.
  • Above Tier 1 are Tiers 2, 3, and 4. The higher the rating, the better the energy savings. Tier 3 represents a highly efficient household appliance.
  • CEE Advanced Tier is the highest possible ranking, and it is equivalent to Energy Star's Most Efficient ranking.

Many products have been tagged with both the already popular Energy Star qualification and a CEE Energy Tier rating. A product that is highly rated by both Energy Star and CEE is likely to be extremely energy efficient.

For more about how the CEE Tier rating is calculated, visit the CEE site. You'll also find current listings of qualifying appliances by brand and model numbers. This provides excellent energy efficiency information for consumers to make better choices when it comes to buying energy-saving appliances.

While CEE establishes advanced tiers of energy performance for appliances, consumers should understand that it does not administer any rebate programs, nor does it conduct appliance tests. Consumers should inquire about such energy programs from their state or provincial efficiency agencies.

What Is a Rebate Program?

A rebate program offers a coupon, discount, or other form of reimbursement for the purchase of a particular product or service. In terms of energy use, some agencies or companies might offer a rebate for the purchase of an energy-saving appliance.

Brands That Meet CEE Tier 3 Criteria

Many well-known brands make appliances such as washers and refrigerators that meet Tier 1, 2, and 3 criteria. Unsurprisingly, Tier 3 appliances are somewhat more expensive (though, in theory, the difference in up-front costs should be offset by the combination of rebates and incentive programs and the lower cost of electricity required to run the appliance).

Some brands that make Tier 3 appliances include:

  • Kenmore
  • Maytag
  • LC
  • Whirlpool
  • Samsung

Remember to check your state or territory's efficiency rebate programs and take advantage of these savings when buying a new appliance.