BrandSource members learn about new dishwasher features directly from the manufactures at a recent product expo. The DoE is pushing its green agenda by requiring dishwasher manufacturers to make their machines even more efficient. 

Stricter rules aim to slash water use and energy consumption

By Andy Kriege, YSN

The Department of Energy (DoE) on Friday quietly released proposed efficiency rules for dishwashers that would reduce water use by more than one-third for some standard-sized machines and slash energy use by 27%. These proposed new standards are the most significant energy crackdown on dishwashers in a decade and come as the appliance manufacturing industry is struggling to comply with a host of the current administration’s rules aimed at boosting energy efficiency and cutting carbon emissions. 

The proposed rule would not be implemented for three years after it is finalized. Any changes would only apply to new models on sale after the law goes into effect. Under the new rules, dishwashers would have to reduce water use to 3.2 gallons per cycle. These revised standards would reduce water use even in many dishwashers that now meet the federal government’s 3.5-gallon Energy Star Standard. Manufacturers would also be required to cut energy use in standard dishwashers from 307-kilowatt hours annually to 223 yearly kilowatt hours. 

Currently, federal law allows dishwashers to use up to 5 gallons per cycle. These higher use models face the steepest cuts in water and energy use and would be eliminated from the market unless redesigned to comply. 

Critics of the new rules say they could push up appliance prices for customers. 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 said in a recent story in the “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.”

Duncan Kramer of Zeglin’s expressed concerns about proposed new dishwasher regulations.

Duncan Kramer, one of the principles at BrandSource member Zeglin’s Home TV and Appliance in Moline, Ill., expressed his concerns about the unintended consequences of the new regulations. “Most people are already rinsing their dishes before they put them in the dishwasher,” he said. “If the new machines use both less water and less power, will people need to rinse and clean the dishes even more before placing them in the dishwasher? If so, they will likely be using even more water in total to get their dishes clean.” 

Kramer said he was skeptical of the proposed regulations and suggested they would simply shift energy consumption to a different part of the dishwashing process in addition to placing an undue burden on the manufacturers to comply with the regulations and ultimately on the consumers to pay for them. 

Dishwashers are not the only appliances the DoE has set its sights on. Regulators are also considering crackdowns on washers, dryers and refrigerators that manufacturers argue could reduce performance and increase costs.

See: Gas Ranges May Be Running Out of Steam

The proposed new regulations come on the heels of a national reckoning over gas stoves. New York lawmakers agreed in late April to ban gas stove hookups in all future buildings. The ban will affect new construction on small buildings in 2025 and move on to larger buildings by 2028.

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