How many energy-efficiency mandates are too many?
The correct answer is zero.
But for the Biden administration, it might be infinity, because the Department of Energy just announced yet another round of efficiency mandates for consumer appliances.
The move is just one in a string of similar regulations targeting everything from gas stoves to vending machines to refrigerators—all introduced in a supposed bid to combat “climate change.”
This time, dishwashers are the object of the administration’s wrath.
Like the rest of the DOE’s efficiency mandates, the proposed rule on dishwashers is predicated on the Environmental Policy and Conservation Act of 1975, born in an era of perceived energy scarcity.
But times have changed since President Gerald Ford signed it into law almost 50 years ago.
In 1975, America was dependent on the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries for energy, importing on average more than 5,800 barrels of crude oil and petroleum products per day. Today, America is the largest producer of oil and natural gas in the world and a net oil and gas exporter.
While innovation and competition have mitigated many of the concerns outlined in the 1975 law, the Biden administration continues to restrict access to American resources through misguided policies, such as energy-efficiency mandates.
Beyond the rules’ shaky statutory ground, these proposed standards are going to raise prices on dishwashers and make it harder to get dishes clean.
According to the DOE’s analysis, increased product and installation costs as a result of the rule will run consumers more than $8 million per year, while resulting in individual annual energy savings of only $17, or less than $1.50 per month.
The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers stated:
The cumulative burden of these standards proposals is overwhelming to the appliance manufacturing industry, but it is consumers who will bear the burden of meager energy savings and significant increased product costs.
In addition to raising prices, the rules will make it harder to wash dishes.
The proposed mandate would slash the limit on water use from 5 gallons of water per cycle down to 3.2 gallons per cycle, while simultaneously reducing the appliance’s energy consumption by nearly 30%. This will have real-world effects on performance.
Consider that the length of dishwasher cycles have already increased over the years due at least in part to existing efficiency mandates, with normal cycle wash times ranging anywhere from 1.5 hours to 2 hours for a single load of dishes.
By requiring manufacturers to cut water usage and energy consumption, wash times are only likely to increase even more. Some manufacturers have also cautioned that these reductions will mean dishwashers won’t clean or dry dishes as effectively, either.
Unfortunately, it’s not surprising that the Biden administration continues to impose its green agenda on everyday Americans with these mandates, methodically stripping away consumer choice in the process.
These energy-efficiency mandates make all kinds of assumptions about Americans’ preferences to justify the new rules, including that Americans undervalue efficiency. In reality, consumers take into account a host of considerations—efficiency among them—when choosing what appliances to put in their homes.
So, by regulating based on one or two characteristics, and by prioritizing energy efficiency over other compelling factors, the government is hindering consumer choice and manufacturers’ innovation.
The good news is that individuals are pushing back on these mandates.
For example, on its proposed efficiency mandates for gas stoves, the Department of Energy received more than 8,000 comments, with many respondents expressing concerns about the rule’s far-reaching, negative effects on American families.
Individuals should approach dishwashers and other appliance regulations with the same zeal. They’re equally as harmful to consumer choice and innovation, and they represent another attempt by the administration to consolidate power to push its broader cultural and economic agenda.
The government has no place in the kitchen, telling consumers what to buy. That’s why it’s vital for individuals and policymakers to challenge Washington bureaucrats, to submit comments for the record to ensure their voices are heard, and to promote policies that restore and preserve consumer choice.
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