March 24

Biden admin cracks down on air conditioners as war on appliances continues


The Biden administration announced its latest home appliance regulations this week, targeting air conditioners in an action it said would reduce the nation’s carbon emissions.

The regulations, unveiled Thursday by the Department of Energy (DOE), finalize energy efficiency standards for home air conditioning units, or window air conditioners, and portable air cleaners. The DOE said the move would cut air pollution and push consumer costs down by billions of dollars via energy savings.

“Today’s announcement builds on the historic actions President Biden took last year to strengthen outdated energy efficiency standards, which will help save on people’s energy bills and reduce our nation’s carbon footprint,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a statement.

“DOE will continue to engage with our public and private sector partners to finalize additional proposals like today’s that lower household energy costs and deliver the safer, healthier communities that every American deserves,” she continued.

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm speaks during a press briefing in May 2021. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

According to the DOE, the new energy efficiency standards will save Americans about $1.5 billion annually and curb carbon dioxide emissions by 106 million metric tons over three decades. The agency added that the regulations were part of President Biden’s efforts to promote innovation and lower costs for families “while tackling the climate crisis.”

The rules for air cleaners are scheduled to be implemented in 2024 and the rules for room air conditioners are slated for 2026.

Over the last several months, meanwhile, the DOE has introduced a series of energy efficiency regulations impacting various home appliances including gas stoves, ovens, clothes washers and refrigerators. Critics have blasted the rules as federal overreach and unnecessary given that the industry has improved technology without government intervention.

“What these mandates, what these standards do is enforce a level of efficiency that doesn’t make sense,” Ben Lieberman, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, told Fox News Digital in an interview last week. “And they compromise product quality. We’ve already seen this to an extent with cost of clothes washer standards.”

“That’s another problem — this is a regulatory program that’s very long in the tooth and you’re getting to the point where clothes washers — this might be the fifth time they’ve been regulated,” he continued. “So we’re really chasing after diminishing or nonexistent marginal returns.”

A window air conditioner is pictured in a file photo. (iStock)

A former senior DOE official previously told Fox News Digital that the Biden administration’s actions would inevitably result in higher costs for consumers.

“Their philosophy is energy efficiency at all costs or energy efficiency no matter the cost,” the official said. “That means we are going to see, as a result of their efficiency standards, higher-priced appliances. It’s that simple.

“The reality is that we are not talking about saving huge amounts of energy from these new regulations.”

And the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), the leading U.S. trade group representing appliance makers and suppliers, has warned that the actions would particularly harm low-income households and decrease overall product quality.

Jill Notini, a spokesperson for AHAM, recently told Fox News Digital that, taking into account the higher costs of appliances, the estimated savings from the energy efficiency rules “don’t add up right now during this time of high inflation.” However, she said Friday that the group supports the air cleaner rule announced this week, but remained concerned about other actions.

“Our industry puts innovative and energy efficient appliances into every home,” Notini told Fox News Digital. “We worked to advance the air cleaner rule within DOE, but we remain concerned that DOE is going too far on other products without any real savings to consumers, at a time when people are looking for relief.”

On his first day in office in January 2021, President Biden signed an executive order requiring the DOE to make “major revisions” to current appliance regulation standards and standards set by the Trump administration. A month later, the agency began moving forward on more than a dozen energy efficiency rules, impacting a wide range of appliances.


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