The Biden administration is intensifying its focus on commercial fans and blowers as part of its ongoing efforts to enforce stricter regulations on appliances, aiming to combat climate change. Concurrently, the administration has established rigorous new efficiency standards for residential refrigerators and freezers.
On December 29, the Department of Energy (DOE) revealed finalized energy efficiency standards for residential refrigerators, freezers, and refrigerator-freezers. These standards are designed to bring cost savings to households while delivering substantial environmental benefits. Compliance with these new standards for refrigeration units, mandated by either 2029 or 2030 depending on the configuration, is projected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by almost 101 million metric tons over 30 years, equivalent to the combined annual emissions of approximately 13 million homes.
In terms of energy conservation, the newly established regulations pledge to save 5.6 quadrillion British thermal units over the same 30-year period. This represents an 11 percent improvement over current market offerings, translating to savings of approximately $36.4 billion over three decades.
In addition to reinforcing standards for refrigeration units, the DOE has introduced proposed regulations targeting commercial fans and blowers, anticipating significant benefits for various stakeholders. If these rules are enacted, businesses could experience a substantial annual reduction in energy expenses, estimated at around $3.3 billion. Over 30 years, these regulations are forecasted to decrease carbon emissions by nearly 318 million tons, making a noteworthy contribution to environmental sustainability.
Notably, if adopted, these regulations would constitute the first-ever federal energy efficiency standards specifically tailored for such products. The agency has also hinted at potential additional measures for compliance, emphasizing its commitment to enhancing efficiency through further regulatory procedures.
“DOE will continue to move quickly in 2024—together with our industry partners and stakeholders—to update and strengthen outdated energy efficiency standards, which is critical to innovation, more consumer options, and healthier communities,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a statement.
Through December 29, the Biden administration has introduced an impressive 30 proposed or finalized energy efficiency standards in this calendar year alone. The Department of Energy (DOE) underscores that these measures align with President Joe Biden’s steadfast commitment to addressing the urgent climate crisis.
A recent analysis by a consumer advocacy group suggests that the administration’s assertive approach to appliance regulations, aimed at combatting climate change, could result in costs exceeding $9,100 for the average American household. It’s worth noting that this estimation does not account for the latest restrictions applied to refrigerators and freezers.
The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a nonprofit organization advocating for limited government, free-market principles, and individual freedoms, has criticized the Biden administration’s efforts to impose more stringent energy efficiency standards on various appliances, labeling it an “anti-consumer campaign.” In a recent Fox News editorial, Ben Lieberman, a senior fellow at CEI, drew parallels between refrigerator standards and those imposed on dishwashers and clothes washers, underscoring a point where the returns on such standards may diminish or turn negative. Lieberman also expressed concerns about potential overestimation of benefits in the DOE’s analysis, suggesting a bias in the agency’s assessments.
In November, Mr. Lieberman provided testimony at a House Committee on Small Business session titled “Burdensome Regulations: Examining the Effects of Department of Energy Regulations on America’s Job Creators.” During this session, he highlighted the issue of appliance overregulation that he observed during his tenure as a staff member on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce in 2018, emphasizing the need for careful oversight and resistance.
“However, over the last two years and especially thus far in 2023, things have really gone too far, largely due to the use (or misuse) of these regulations as climate change policy tools,” Mr. Lieberman told lawmakers.
He argued that each new regulation, whether in the proposal or final stages, presented a risk of increased appliance costs, compromised performance, and limited consumer choices. Mr. Lieberman advocated for a comprehensive overhaul, proposing the potential revocation of the DOE’s authority in setting standards as the most effective form of reform.
The Alliance for Consumers, an advocacy group, recently estimated the substantial financial impact of various Biden administration regulations on appliances on American households. Through an infographic titled “Biden’s Dream Home,” the nonprofit quantified the administration’s proposals for upgraded energy standards across numerous home appliances, including air conditioners, washing machines, and gas stoves.
While the Biden administration scrutinizes a broad array of appliances, from microwave ovens to ceiling fans, dehumidifiers, and pool pumps, the watchdog focused on a sample of common household equipment, estimating the cumulative financial strain resulting from existing and potential regulations. Collectively, the projected impact of Biden administration policies on an average American family amounts to $9,166.
For example, the adoption of new gas furnace efficiency standards, aimed at “dramatically reducing greenhouse gas emissions” in residential settings, is expected to cost consumers an additional average of $494, according to the group’s analysis. Meanwhile, proposed dishwasher efficiency standards, championed by Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm to mitigate carbon emissions, might lead to drainage issues and clogging, potentially requiring repairs ranging between $50 and $400, as estimated by the Alliance for Consumers. Proposed guidelines focusing on air conditioning refrigerants are anticipated to significantly increase air conditioning refill costs, adding approximately $1,100, according to the watchdog’s projection.