What if there were no appliance standards?
- Appliances would use 2-3 times more energy than they do today;
- You’d be paying about $500 more a year to power the appliances and lights in your home.
- There would be added strain on the power grid on hot summer days.
- There would be even more greenhouse gases and other pollution in the air.
Without standards, some innovation and efficiency gains would have occurred on their own. Without standards, the pace of those gains would have been slower and less pronounced than what actually occurred. Appliance standards served as a catalyst for many of the energy efficiency gains we’ve seen over the last 40 years.
So, why haven’t I heard of appliance standards before?
Unlike the blue ENERGY STAR label or the yellow EnergyGuide tag (which shows a product’s energy use compared to similar products), efficiency standards are usually invisible to consumers. Once a standard goes into effect, all products manufactured or imported for sale in the U.S. must meet the efficiency requirements. Over the last 40 years, Congress has passed several appliance standards laws, directly setting standards for some products and requiring the Department of Energy (DOE) to set and update standards for others. DOE and Congress together have set minimum efficiency standards for more than 55 residential, commercial and lighting products.
Recently, these energy efficiency measures have been in the news and it’s no wonder – standards provide tangible benefits to consumers, businesses, and the nation as a whole.
In May 2014, President Obama himself announced new efficiency standards for several products, staying true to his administration’s commitment to reduce CO2 emissions through appliance standards by 3 billion metric tons by 2030. In October 2014, Energy Secretary Moniz announced that “DOE is on track to finalize a record number of efficiency standards for household products and appliances, as the administration places a new emphasis on using energy conservation to achieve its climate goals.”
By 2035, existing efficiency standards will save enough energy to meet the current level of U.S. energy demand for two full years, savings consumers more than $1.1 trillion dollars in the process.
Fortunately for consumers, for the planet, and for future generations, we don’t have to answer the question: “What If there were no appliance standards?”