Dishwashers join growing list of home appliances targeted by Biden climate warriors
Critics fear administration's "energy efficiency standards" for household appliances will raise costs, reduce performance, kill jobs, disproportionately impact low-income families.
Last week, President Biden's Department of Energy (DOE) announced "Congressionally-mandated proposed standards" for household dishwashers.
In announcing the proposed dishwasher restrictions for Americans, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said the Biden administration is "using all of the tools" available to "reduce carbon pollution and combat the climate crisis."
The standards are just the latest in a series of proposed "climate-friendly" regulations on technology products and industries throughout America, increasingly including everyday home appliances.
Here is a list of items in your home targeted by Biden administration climate warriors:
On Friday, the Biden Energy Department announced new efficiency standards to limit water usage and energy consumption for new dishwashers. If implemented, the rules would require that dishwashers cut water and power usage by 34% and 27% respectively, according to Bloomberg Law. For smaller models, the mandatory reductions are 22% for power and 11% for water.
The DOE claimed that dishwasher models today "can meet improved energy and water standards" while also providing the "cleaning performance" consumers need. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm lauded the "rapid progress" being made by DOE to "strengthen outdated energy efficiency standards."
While the Energy Department claims consumers would save $168 million per year under the plan, the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) said the new rules would drive up costs for manufacturers and consumers alike "without providing meaningful energy savings."
Under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, the DOE is required by law to "conduct regular reviews of efficiency standards" but "is not required" to tighten restrictions, AHAM explains on its website. However, "in nearly every case, DOE has opted to issue more stringent standards following reviews," according to the trade association
"Most appliances covered by the program now operate at" close enough to "peak efficiency" that it's "unlikely that additional standards will result in significant energy gains." the organization claims,
If you want to keep the lights on in your home, you might have to make a few changes soon.
Starting in August, the Department of Energy is set to begin enforcing a ban on the manufacture and retail sale of most incandescent light bulbs, effectively mandating LED bulbs on the entire nation.
The DOE first hinted at the ban in April of last year. The initial rule allowed lightbulb manufacturers less than three months to transition from incandescents, citing "President Biden's climate goals."
While the DOE claims the switch will save Americans money, a free market consumer group wrote a letter to the department claiming LEDs "currently cost more than incandescent bulbs."
Cost aside, many argue that LED lighting is inferior to incandescents in many ways and can, moreover, pose health risks, including higher probability of vision loss and skin cancer, according to a British ophthalmology professor and a skin disease expert, respectively.
In February, the DOE announced "new energy-efficiency standards" for refrigerators that it claimed would "lower household energy costs and significantly reduce pollution." Despite touting purported energy cost savings for consumers, the announcement doesn't appear to factor in higher prices for refrigerators themselves.
The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers responded by pointing out that in order to comply with the proposed refrigerator regulations manufacturers will have to pass along their increased production costs in the form of higher prices charged to consumers.
"We're seeing costs of new products going up dramatically," said AHAM's Jill Notini, according to Reason Magazine. "Now we're telling consumers not only is your food going to cost more, but your refrigerator will also cost you more."
In addition to the new energy efficiency standards, refrigerator manufacturers could be hit hard by a proposed EPA rule "restricting the use of super-polluting hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in certain products and equipment where more climate friendly alternatives are available." HFCs include gases used in most modern refrigerators. If implemented, the new restrictions could negatively affect supply and cost of aerosol products, foams and more.
In the same proposal cracking down on refrigerators, DOE also said it seeks additional regulations on washing machines. Between the two, the department estimated consumers would save $3.5 billion annually on utility bills, or $425 per household over the appliances' lifespan.
However, the flipside of such purported energy cost savings is that washers might not work as well as they do now. The proposed efficiency standards would mean reducing the volume of water used in washing machines, as well as lowering the temperature during cycles, meaning stubborn stains or residues that require hot water to eliminate might not come out so easily, according to the Washington Examiner.
Besides raising performace issues, the rules would have a "disproportionate, negative impact on low-income households" by wiping out lower-cost models, AHAM argued, according to the Washington Free Beacon.
In February, the DOE proposed regulations that U.S. Oil and Gas Association President Tim Stewart said "would ban 84% of the gas stoves" as "not being energy efficient enough."
Many states have already taken the initiative to impose anti-gas stove regulations, but a coalition of 11 Democrat state attorneys generals wants to go even further, asking federal regulators in a joint letter on Monday to "develop voluntary standards or mandatory regulations that will reduce the emissions of harmful pollutants" for certain gas stoves.
Last June, the DOE called for "energy-efficiency standards for residential gas furnaces" to "significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions." Although the department is touting these standards, too, as cost-effective for consumers, the Wall Street Journal reported that natural gas is "less than one-third as expensive as electricity on a per unit energy basis."
"The proposed furnace rule has at least as much to do with the Biden administration's war on natural gas [as] it does with saving energy," natural gas consultant Mark Krebs told the outlet.
Citing "energy efficiency" yet again, DOE isued new energy efficiency standards rules for portable air cleaners and air conditioners, effective as of 2024 and 2026, repectively. The department claims the new standards "will save Americans about $1.5 billion annually and curb carbon dioxide emissions by 106 million metric tons over three decades," Fox News reported.
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