New efficiency Standards – good for consumers and the environment

The Dept. of Energy announced new federal energy efficiency standards for washers and dishwashers

The drive for greater energy efficiency has become part of our culture. So to is the growing awareness that water is a precious commodity we can no longer take for granted.

Manufacturers recognize that consumers are demanding better performing and less wasteful products. This resulted in 2010 in a gathering of oddfellows that under other circumstances wouldn’t have occurred.

A coalition of appliance manufacturers, consumer, environmental and energy efficiency groups came together to advocate for stronger federal consumer appliance standards.

Over the past 20 plus years, the Department of Energy (DOE) had issued around 25 such standards and, says Andrew deLaski, the Executive Director of Appliance Standards Awareness Project (ASAP).

From 2007 on, the DOE had undertaken rule-making procedures to address energy efficiency standards for clothes dryers, washers, room air conditioners, refrigerators and freezers. It had not yet begun the process for dishwashers. By 2010, it had already issued a preliminary analysis that showed the level that would be both cost effective for consumers and save energy.

“Once that analysis is published,” he said, “the parties see the writing on the wall.”

The resulting joint agreement raises the bar on standards for a variety of appliances, the latest being dishwashers and washing machines. Approved by the coalition in 2010, the DOE announced the final version of the new standards this week.

Once the agreement was finalized, the DOE had to then do its due diligence. It had to make certain the recommendations were appropriate for manufacturers and for consumers.

“That’s the bottom line responsibility for the DOE,” deLaski said.

A new dishwasher will use half as much energy as it did in the early 1990’s

“The home appliance industry is proud of its long history of energy efficiency advancements benefiting consumers and applauds DOE for working with stakeholders to increase energy efficiency,” said Joe McGuire, President of the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers.

An analysis by The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) and ASAP show that by 2025 these new standards will save American consumers the near equivalents annually of 8 billion kWh of electricity, 280 million therms of natural gas, and 175 billion gallons of water. That’s comparable to the amount of electricity used by 700,000 U.S. homes, the amount of natural gas used to heat 500,000 U.S. homes and enough water to meet the needs of 3 million people.

These new rules will save consumers over $30 billion over the course of 30 years, said deLaski.

“It’s not a tough decision,’ he said.

“(This is) a quiet story but important one.” said deLaski. It’s about protecting the environment and saving consumers money, he said.

On the consumer side, with the new standards, a new clothes washer will use half as much energy as a washer did in the year 2000. A new dishwasher will use half as much energy as it did in the early 1990’s!

Even better news for consumers is that these standards apply to all levels of these appliances – from low cost to high-end, even luxury-style dishwashers and washing machines.

And, says de:Laski, because manufacturers want to offer a value priced product, he anticipates little increase in price with the new standards.

His experience is that “we haven’t seen a lot of impact of standards on prices over the years.”

And consumers don’t have to wait for the new, more efficient dishwashers and washers.

The top ten front- and top-loading models in the 2012 Consumer Reports Buyer’s Guide already meet the 2018 standards. There are currently more than 300 models, from 30 different brands, already available that meet or exceed these standards.

And, said deLaski, “efficiency and high cleaning standards go hand in hand”

The data from Consumer Reports shows the products that meet these standards are the top performers for cleaning performance, he said.

It’s anticipated that the new standards’ impact on the environment will reduce the pressure on rivers, lakes, estuaries, groundwater tables, and our water and wastewater infrastructure in all 50 states.

Ten thousand gallons of water per household is a big savings for those parts of the country where water (or growing lack thereof) is a big deal, said deLaski.

The availability of water is a serious concern in states like Arizona, Texas and California

This is especially true in states like California, Arizona and Texas where water is becoming a serious issue.

One aspect of these new appliances may confuse consumers, says Joe Heslin, Sales Manager of Redding, California’s Carmona’s Appliance Center (and co-owner of their Red Bluff store).

You’ll use less electricity, less kilowatts and less water, he said. But your dishwasher and washing machine run-time will be longer. They’ll be doing so more effectively and using less water in the process, he said.

You want to look for the most efficient machine, he said. He recommended going to to learn more about this.

To learn more about the new standards, go to

One Response

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