Biden’s Avalanche Of Regs Hits Consumers With Higher Costs, Worse Performance
It’s not just your gas stove that the Biden administration is seeking to regulate in the name of combating climate change — it’s coming for your entire home.
President Biden’s green energy goals have resulted in an array of new efficiency rules for a slew of household appliances, including microwaves and toothbrush chargers.
The effort is forcing manufacturers to produce more costly products that they say reverse innovation by decades and potentially eliminate thousands of U.S. jobs. [emphasis, links added]
Biden administration officials are touting the rules as part of the goal to take 100 actions “to strengthen energy efficiency standards for a range of appliances and equipment to lower costs for American families.”
Combined, the plethora of rules would [theoretically] save the average family $100 annually by lowering energy bills.
Industry leaders say the rules come with steep upfront costs for consumers and negatively impact performance.
Rather than innovating features sought by consumers, the ramped-up regulations for appliances are forcing manufacturers to go backward, said Jill Notini, a spokeswoman for the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers.
“They are literally going to have to redesign products that will look closer to the 1950s than they do to 2020,” Ms. Notini said.
The association and manufacturers have been working with the Energy Department to try to moderate the onslaught of new rules, but they are not making much progress.
Manufacturers say it breaks from a long tradition of manufacturers and administration officials working together on energy efficiency rules.
Manufacturers also say it is overwhelming them with higher production costs and, in some cases, difficulty meeting the standards.
One industry executive described the cascade of regulations as “an avalanche” and “unprecedented” in stringency and scope.
The Department of Energy late last week quietly added yet another rule that would force manufacturers to redesign appliances. It introduced proposed standards requiring dishwashers to cut water use, some by more than one-third, and reduce energy consumption by up to 27% for some models.
The proposed rules are even more drastic for washing machines.
The standards proposed by the Energy Department would eliminate 98% of all top-loading washing machines on the market today and would require manufacturers to make machines larger and remove the central agitator that increases cleaning performance.
One manufacturer said the efficiency standard would add $200 to the cost of a top-loading machine.
An accompanying rule for clothes dryers would end sales of less-expensive models that do not comply with strict federal Energy Star efficiency standards.
Manufacturers are also grappling with energy rules for microwave ovens that would reduce power usage in standby mode.
To meet the new caps, manufacturers say, they might eliminate backlighting and display clocks that remain lit while the microwave is not in use and some higher-end sensors that improve performance.
The Energy Department is also ramping up efficiency standards for refrigerators by requiring more expensive compressors and insulation components that will raise costs and possibly reduce interior space.
New efficiency rules are also coming for appliance chargers, air conditioners, air purifiers, and gas stoves.
The Biden administration’s plan to increase the energy efficiency of gas stoves has received major public attention and outcry from manufacturers who say it will be impossible to produce some of the more popular gas stove models and will increase cooking time significantly because burner size will have to shrink.
Industry insiders accuse the Department of Energy of ignoring manufacturing data on cost and performance and not backing down on the stringency or the swift pace of the new regulations as they work to meet Mr. Biden’s aggressive plan to reduce emissions and combat climate change.
The administration is also rushing to comply with a lawsuit it settled with environmental groups over missed deadlines for updating energy efficiency standards during the Trump administration, though the deadline does not require stricter standards.
Most of the rules will be finalized by next year. That gives manufacturers until 2027 to comply with them.
A top executive at one of the nation’s leading manufacturers, who requested anonymity to speak freely about the rules, said appliance makers are overwhelmed by the onslaught of new requirements impacting ten product categories.
“We’ve never had that many rules with compliance dates at the same time,” he said. “And the magnitude of the standards are very stringent. Something we haven’t seen before.” …
Energy savings for individual consumers would be small. The new washing machine rules would save less than $8 annually, and the clothes dryer efficiency standards would save $36 per year, according to the Energy Department.
In exchange for the energy savings, clothes would take much longer to dry, increasing the potential for fabric damage, Whirlpool executives warned in a letter to the Energy Department.
The washing machine savings, they said, would come with longer cycle times, more noise and vibration, an increase in tangled clothes, and less effective cleaning because of lower water and temperature allowances.
The upfront cost increases for appliances to meet the standards will impact lower-income consumers the most, manufacturers said, because they target lower-priced items that are less energy efficient, such as refrigerators with freezers on top, which make up about 50% of the refrigerator market.
Top-loading washers are typically less expensive than the more energy-efficient front-loading machines, which are rebounding in popularity, and lower-cost dryers that do not meet Energy Star requirements would be pushed out of the market entirely. …
In addition to household appliances, the administration is increasing energy efficiency standards on dozens of other items, including light bulbs, gas furnaces, water heaters, and industrial equipment. …
Buried in the Energy Department’s analysis are troubling figures for the nation’s manufacturing sector.
The department has calculated that the new rules for washers, dryers, and refrigerators alone could cumulatively cost the manufacturing industry more than 16,000 U.S. jobs if manufacturers move to countries with cheaper labor to mitigate production cost increases. They also crunch numbers to show jobs could increase in the U.S. if manufacturers stay put.
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