The US Department of Energy is now turning its attention to household water heaters as the Biden administration continues to target everyday home appliances for further regulations.
The administration, led by Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm, proposed new standards for water heaters last week. The standards on residential water heater efficiency, which are required by Congress, have not been updated in 13 years.
Officials say the new regulations to impose energy efficiency standards would save consumers $11.4 billion on energy and water bills annually. The regulations – which would take effect in 2029 – would require electric water heaters to use heat pumps to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
Water heaters account for 13 percent of all Americans’ annual residential energy use and utility costs. The new pumps are twice as efficient as the older models.
However, critics point to the move as the latest in Biden’s ‘war’ on appliances that has seen the administration target machines ranging from air conditioners to gas stoves in homes.
The rule would require, in order to become more efficient, the most common-size electric water heaters use heat pump technology, which is twice as efficient.
President Joe Biden’s Department of Energy is pushing his green agenda by proposing new regulations on many household goods
‘Today’s actions…improve outdated efficiency standards for common household appliances, which is essential to slashing utility bills for American families and cutting harmful carbon emissions,’ Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said.
There is no word on whether Americans will have to immediately replace their water heaters, but the rules do not go into effect for five years. The last time the rules were updated, they had the backing of the largest manufacturers.
Storage tank heaters typically cost between $500 to $800 and are often replaced over the life of the home.
The standards are expected to reduce more than 500 million metric tones of carbon dioxide emissions over 30 years.
The new regulations might initially make water heaters more expensive, but consumers should recover costs over time, Johanna Neumann, a senior director at the nonprofit Environment America Research and Policy Center, told the Washington Post.
‘Appliance standards are an unsung hero in our work to address climate change and transition to wiser energy use,’ Neumann said, ‘and this rule is the king of them all.’
Officials estimated the new rules would save Americans on average $1,868 over the life of their water heater.
The heat pump technology is already common in other countries such as Japan.
Officials estimated the new rules would save Americans on average $1,868 over the life of their water heater
However, Republicans, including former President Donald Trump, have complained about the proposed regulations on household appliances.
It would be equivalent to the combined annual emissions of 63 million homes, or approximately 50 percent of homes in the United States, the DOE said.
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said the proposal ‘builds on the unprecedented actions already taken by this administration to lower energy costs for working families.’
A group including water heater maker Rheem, environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council and efficiency and consumer advocacy organizations issued a joint statement welcoming the new standards.
Tankless water heater maker Rinnai, however, said the proposed standards for its products were ‘technologically impossible’ and would reduce consumer choice.
Regulations on household appliances have become common for the Biden administration and a target of criticism for Republicans. Former President Donald Trump once complained about efficiency standards for shower heads saying that they interfered with the rinsing of his hair.
Trump’s Energy Department eased energy standards on such fixtures. The Biden administration later reversed the rule on shower heads in 2021.
In May, the Biden administration announced a green crackdown on dishwashers.
The rules, which form part of the administration’s climate change agenda, would slash water use by more than one-third and cut energy use limits by 27 percent for dishwashers in the US.
Any changes would only apply to new models on sale once the new rules have officially come into effect, expected to be in 2027.
The new rules would force manufacturers to limit dishwashers to using 3.2 gallons of water per cycle, far below the current federal limit of 5 gallons.
In May, the Biden administration announced a green crackdown on dishwashers. The new rules would force manufacturers to limit dishwashers to using 3.2 gallons of water per cycle, far below the current federal limit of 5 gallons.
The regulations would also require dishwasher manufacturers to reduce their products’ energy consumption by nearly 30 percent.
Most dishwashers on the market are already well below the federal standard, with most using 3.5 gallons per cycle or less.
Jill Notini, a spokeswoman for the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, warned that ordinary Americans will ultimately pick up the tab for the new rules.
‘Consumers will pay the real price,’ she told Newstimesuk.com. ‘The Department of Energy has proposed very stringent standards for home appliances that will require higher upfront costs to purchase a product.’
‘Manufacturers just want to be able to deliver high performing, fully featured products at costs that consumers of all incomes can afford. The DoE is making that very difficult with the standards they are proposing,’ Ms Notini added.
But administration officials claim that the plans will ‘lower costs for American families and businesses while tackling the climate crisis.’
Abgail Marone, an aide to Josh Hawley, a Republican senator from Missouri, accused the Biden administration of peddling ‘a radical green energy agenda.’
‘Leave our dishwashers alone,’ she said.
Republicans recently reacted with fury after a Biden-appointed safety regulator suggested that authorities could ban gas stoves considered to be major polluters. The move, at the time, considered a ban on the traditional kitchen appliances.
The proposal was met with fury and quickly dismissed by the White House.
Consumer Product Safety Commission Commissioner Richard Trumka Jr. said earlier this year that ‘gas stove regulation has reached a boiling point.
Trumka claimed the body ‘has the responsibility to ban consumer products that emit hazardous substances, particularly, when those emissions harm children.’
‘Any option is on the table. Products that can’t be made safe can be banned,’ he said.
He later was forced to clarify that he had been speaking about new products, and that a retrospective gas stove ban was not being considered.
Gas stove manufacturers argue that they are just as harmful as other means of cooking. A proposal to ban the stove was met with fury from many Americans
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre quickly dismissed the idea that the White House wanted to eliminate all gas stoves.
The US Consumer Product Safety Commission makes decisions independently from the executive branch.
But a leaked memo from October 2022, first obtained by Fox News, showed the top safety watchdog was considering tightening the rules on dangerous emissions.
Biden’s Department of Energy has already pushed through stricter environmental standards on washing machines and refrigerators that have been described as ‘overregulation on steroids.’
On his first day in office in January 2021, he signed an executive order telling DoE officials to make ‘major revisions’ to current appliance regulation standards.
A month later, the agency listed more than a dozen energy efficiency rules, impacting appliances like water heaters, cooking products and lamps, that it would review.
At the end of last year, the White House released a statement boasting that it had taken action against 110 household appliances to help cut emissions.
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