On February 10, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) proposed new, more energy-efficient standards for refrigerators, freezers, and clothes washers – with strong support from the National Consumer Law Center.
Over the past few decades, efficiency standards set by DOE on a broad range of products have saved consumers tens of billions of dollars, growing to $130 billion by 2030, according to the Appliance Standards Awareness Project. These newly proposed standards will continue the trend, saving consumers money both on their electric and water bills.
As an organization focused on advocating for lower-income households, NCLC notes DOE’s analysis that low-income consumers will, on average, see greater savings than consumers overall from these standards. This is because low-income households are disproportionately renters, and property owners frequently incur the purchase price for a new refrigerator or washer, while the tenants will reap the energy bill savings.
According to DOE’s analysis, a household that has the more efficient top-mount refrigerator freezer and top-loading clothes washer will save $250 over the life of those appliances, compared to the current baseline-efficient units. The efficient clothes washer not only saves on electricity, but also provides significant water bill savings, at a time when an increasing number of households struggle to pay their water bills.
DOE’s appliance efficiency standards are also one of the most important tools the government has to reduce climate change, the brunt of which is too often borne by low-income families and communities of color.
NCLC has been a strong supporter of DOE’s appliance standards program for decades, and fully supports this most recent standards proposal.