Sends proposed efficiency standards back to DOE

By Alan Wolf, YSN

An effort to tighten efficiency standards for dishwashers and washing machines by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) was stymied by a federal appeals court last week, which called the agency’s rules “arbitrary and capricious.”

The strict new standards were designed to eliminate exemptions from any water or energy restrictions for fast-cycle models that were implemented during the Trump administration.

See: DOE Proposes New Dishwasher Regulations

The court found that the agency “failed to adequately consider appliance performance, substitution effects, and the ample record evidence that DOE’s conservation standards are causing Americans to use more energy and water rather than less.”

That last point was not lost on BrandSource member Duncan Kramer, a principal of Zeglin’s Home TV and Appliance in Moline, Ill., who shared his concerns about the standards’ unintended consequences last spring. “Most people are already rinsing their dishes before they put them in the dishwasher,” he said. “If the new machines use 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 added that the proposed standards would simply shift energy consumption to a different part of the dishwashing process, and would place an undue burden on manufacturers to comply with them and on consumers to pay for them.

The appeals court also found that the DOE’s statutory mandate over “water use” applied only to showerheads, faucets, water closets and urinals. “Congress never gave DOE power to regulate water use by other products like dishwashers or laundry appliances,” it wrote.

But rather than eliminating the new standards outright, the court sent the proposed regulations back to the agency for reevaluation.

The ruling comes as the DOE is working to meet mandatory deadlines for updated efficiency standards for multiple appliances, including washers, dryers, refrigerators and microwave ovens, which lapsed during the Trump administration.

Hat tip to The Hill and Bloomberg Law.

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