House Passes ‘Hands Off Appliances’ Act

Bill would ease strict efficiency standards

By Alan Wolf, YSN

The House of Representatives passed a bill on Tuesday that would make it more difficult for the Department of Energy (DOE) to impose energy efficiency standards on home appliances, and easier to revoke current ones.

The measure, titled the Hands Off Our Home Appliances Act, prohibits the U.S. Secretary of Energy from “prescribing or enforcing energy conservation standards … that are not cost-effective or technologically feasible,” and would eliminate the DOE’s current mandate to periodically update standards. Instead, standards would be updated on an as-needed basis, and a new process would be established for the public to petition conservation standards that should be revoked or revised. 

Lesko’s Lament

According to the bill’s author, Congresswoman Debbie Lesko of Arizona, the legislation would prevent any household appliance from being banned by the federal government based on fuel usage.

“The Department of Energy has unleashed an avalanche of new regulations for household products, including stoves, dishwashers, washing machines, showers, toilets, water heaters, air conditioners, heat pumps and furnaces,” she said in a statement. “I am saddened that we would need such a bill.”

But according to PIRG, a public interest advocacy group, the law already requires that any standards the DOE sets must be cost-effective and technologically feasible. Since Congress authorized the DOE to establish energy efficiency standards in 1975, appliance regulations have saved U.S. households about $500 a year in utility bills, offsetting the higher cost of energy-efficient models, and have averted between 1,900 and 4,400 deaths each year as a result of reduced pollution, PIRG argued.

In Hot Water

The vote, which was postponed last month following Iran’s missile and drone attack on Israel, was split along party lines, The Hill reported, with seven Democrats joining the House’s Republican majority to pass the measure by a 212-195 margin. But according to the political website, the legislation is unlikely to move beyond the lower chamber.

The bill’s passage followed last week’s finalizing of new DOE rules for hot water heaters, which would require manufacturers to shift more than 50% of production to heat pump technology by 2029.

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