Experts are warning that President Joe Biden’s green rules are going to cause the prices of everyday household appliances to soar.
However, tighter restrictions on home appliances mean they will also do less.
In December 2022, the Biden administration made a pledge to take “more than 100 actions” to impose significantly tighter environmental standards on consumer goods.
This promise is now becoming a reality, and consumer groups are predicting a future in which Americans pay more for products that do less.
Manufacturers, meanwhile, are warning of shortages and supply chain breakdowns.
“You’re seeing, just in the last few months, new rules from the Biden administration about clothes washers, dishwashers, and other kinds of kitchen appliances, and in every case, you’re talking about a tightening of already very, very tight standards,” explains O.H. Skinner, executive director of the Alliance for Consumers.
“That will make it so that nearly the majority of the current products on the market don’t meet the standards and have to be redesigned or removed from the market,” Skinner said.
“Everyday things that people actually want are going to get more expensive or disappear, and the products that will be available will be more expensive but not better.
“People are going to wonder why life is worse.”
These new regulations (pdf) from the Department of Energy (DOE) come on top of new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) emissions regulations on cars and electric utilities, and efforts to ban gas stoves, which critics say will have similar consequences in those industries.
Many of these new regulations will be finalized by next year and would give manufacturers several years to comply.
In December 2022, the White House announced that “the Biden-Harris Administration has surpassed its goal to take 100 actions in 2022 to strengthen energy efficiency standards for a range of appliances and equipment to lower costs for American families.”
The announcement touted 110 new regulations enacted by federal agencies on “everything from air conditioners and furnaces, to clothes washers and dryers, to kitchen appliances and water heaters—as well as commercial and industrial equipment.”
According to the Biden administration: “Once finalized, these standards will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 2.4 billion metric tons, equivalent to the carbon emissions from 10 million homes, 17 million gas cars, or 21 coal-fired power plants over 30 years.
“The projected consumer savings from these standards would be $570 billion cumulatively, and for an average household this will mean at least $100 in annual savings.”
These actions follow a familiar pattern: rumors of new directives, followed by official denials, followed by draconian diktats.
In turn, this outcry was met with denials by the Commission, together with media ridicule, that any such thing was being contemplated.
This was then followed by new environmental standards from the DOE that would ban the manufacturing of 50 percent of the gas stoves available on the market today.
The DOE rules elicited criticism from House Republicans, who in a March 21 letter to Granholm called the regulations “a blatant back door attempt to ban gas appliances enjoyed by millions of Americans.
“Your attempt to ban gas appliances has no basis in law or within your jurisdiction,” GOP representatives charged.
“The Department of Energy has enjoyed bipartisan support, your actions to appease the Biden Administration’s radical climate agenda does not reflect well upon the Department.”
While consumer advocates doubt that these new measures will save Americans money, appliance makers say consumers will not be happy with the products that are left to buy.
Instead of allowing appliance manufacturers to innovate products for features that consumers want, “they are literally going to have to redesign products that will look closer to the 1950s than they do to 2020,” Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers spokesperson Jill Notini said.