The Biden administration unveiled a regulatory proposal late Friday targeting water heaters, the latest in a string of energy efficiency actions cracking down on home appliances.
The Department of Energy (DOE) said its proposal would ultimately ‘accelerate deployment’ of electric heat pump water heaters, save Americans billions of dollars and vastly reduce carbon emissions. If finalized, the proposed standards would force less energy efficient, but cheaper, water heaters off the market.
‘Today’s actions — together with our industry partners and stakeholders — improve outdated efficiency standards for common household appliances, which is essential to slashing utility bills for American families and cutting harmful carbon emissions,’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 in a statement.
‘This proposal reinforces the trajectory of consumer savings that forms the key pillar of Bidenomics and builds on the unprecedented actions already taken by this Administration to lower energy costs for working families across the nation,’ she continued.
Overall, the DOE projected the regulations, which are slated to go into effect in 2029, would save Americans about $198 billion while curbing emissions by 501 million metric tons over the next three decades. That’s roughly the same carbon footprint as 63 million homes or half of all homes nationwide.
Under the rule, the federal government would require higher efficiency for heaters using heat pump technology or, in the case of gas-fired water heaters, to achieve efficiency gains through condensing technology. Non-condensing gas-fired water heaters, though, are far cheaper and smaller, meaning they come with lower installation costs.
According to the DOE, water heating accounts for 13% of annual residential energy use and consumer utility costs.
In addition to water heaters, over the last several months, the DOE has unveiled new standards for a wide variety of other appliances including gas stoves, clothes washers, refrigerators and air conditioners. The agency’s comment period on a separate dishwasher regulatory proposal concluded Tuesday.
According to the current federal Unified Agenda, a government-wide, semiannual list that highlights regulations agencies plan to propose or finalize within the next 12 months, the Biden administration is additionally moving forward with rules impacting dozens more appliances, including consumer furnaces, pool pumps, battery chargers, ceiling fans and dehumidifiers.
The Biden administration boasted in December that it had taken 110 actions on energy efficiency rules in 2022 alone as part of its climate agenda.
The DOE said Friday that, altogether, its appliance regulations will save Americans $570 billion and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 2.4 billion metric tons over the next 30 years.
However, consumer groups and experts have criticized the administration over its aggressive energy efficiency campaign. They have argued the new regulations will reduce consumer choice and increase costs for Americans.
‘It’s just spreading to more and more appliances. It seems that almost everything that plugs in or fires up around the house is either subject to a pending regulation or soon will be,’ Ben Lieberman, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, previously told Fox News Digital.
‘Consumers aren’t going to like any of it,’ he added. ‘These rules are almost always bad for consumers for the simple reason that they restrict consumer choice.’