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Appliance apocalypse: Dishwashers next on the chopping block to combat climate change

Photo by Ute Grabowsky/Photothek via Getty Images

The Department of Energy rolled out a proposal for more stringent energy and water efficiency standards for dishwashers Friday, a move consumers may be less than enthused about, the Competitive Enterprise Institute reported.

Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm insists the new standards will save Americans $652 million in utility bills while "mitigating harmful carbon pollution."

"This Administration is using all of the tools at our disposal to save Americans money while promoting innovations that will reduce carbon pollution and combat the climate crisis," Sec. Granholm said in a statement lauding the appliance standards.

By 2027, ordinary household dishwashers would have to use 27% less power and 34% less water in their default cycles under the proposed rules, Bloomberg reported. The agency estimates the change will cost consumers $15 on the front end of a dishwasher purchase, but say consumers would save thrice that on the back end with decreased operating costs over the lifetime of the machine.

Theoretically, anyway.

The problem arises when consumers, unhappy with the cleanliness of their dishes after running a normal cycle, might run the dishes through twice, or even wash dishes by hand, which is far less efficient in terms of the amount of water used.

In addition to the proposed regulations for dishwashers, the document also set its sights on electric motors and beverage vending machines.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute, an organization that promotes regulatory reform, calls the DOE's dishwasher proposal "the most anti-consumer of them all."

Further, CEI says the move violates the statute under which the agency derives its appliance standard-setting authority: namely, the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 that forbids it from to place energy efficiency over product performance, choice, and features.

The DOE's rules would lower the limits on the amount of water and amount of energy a dishwasher can use for its default cycle. The current limit is 5 gallons of water per cycle. The new regulations would slash that to 3.2 gallons.

Most dishwashers on the market already use 3.5 gallons or fewer, according to Fox Business.

The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, using the DOE's own cost estimates, says compliance will cost manufacturers $2.5 billion.

President Biden revoked a Trump-era deregulatory measure that created a "short-cycle" category for cycles that took an hour or less. Those manufacturers were not saddled with the meeting the existing efficiency standards, as Reason explained.

The Biden administration jettisoned that measure in 2022. Now, the energy efficiency rules are even more strict.

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