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. However, appliance standards were the catalyst for many of the energy efficiency gains in appliances and equipment over the last 30+ years.
So, why haven’t you heard of appliance standards before?
Appliance standards aren’t advertised or touted in the press because once a standard goes into effect all products manufactured or imported for sale in the U.S. must meet the minimum efficiency requirements. Unlike the voluntary “Energy Star” label or the required “Energy Guide” which shows a product’s energy use compared to others, the minimum standards are invisible to consumers. Congress has passed several appliance standards laws, directly setting standards for some products and requiring the Department of Energy (DOE) to set standards for others. DOE and Congress together have set minimum efficiency standards for more than 55 residential, commercial and lighting products.
Lately, people have at high levels have been talking about appliance standards. In a June 2013 speech unveiling his climate plan, President Obama committed to a new appliance energy efficiency goal: “Efficiency standards for appliances and federal buildings set in the first and second terms combined will reduce carbon pollution by at least 3 billion metric tons cumulatively by 2030-–-equivalent to nearly one-half of the carbon pollution from the entire U.S. energy sector for one year---while continuing to cut families’ energy bills.” U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz noted that "the cumulative impact [of appliance standards] is considerable which is exactly why we need to stay on this course of putting through these technology-grounded efficiency rules for a whole range of appliances and the like.
Fortunately for consumers, for the reliability of our energy systems and for our environment, you don’t have to ask “What If?”