Energy & Environment

Trump admin moves ahead with plans to weaken efficiency standards for quick dishwashers

The Department of Energy (DOE) is pushing forward with plans to allow faster-cleaning dishwashers to duck current energy efficiency standards, a move critics say defeats years of progress on making the appliances energy efficient.

According to DOE’s fall agenda posted Wednesday, the agency plans to announce a final action on the proposal by May 2020.

Under the not yet finalized proposal, DOE would waive the more stringent energy standards for dishwashers that wash and dry dishes, pots and pans in under an hour by placing them in a new class of appliances. The agency will later consider what “appropriate” energy and water use standards will apply to the new class of dishwashers in a separate, future rulemaking.

The move follows a petition by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a group whose members include Myron Ebell, a well-known climate skeptic who advised the Trump Environmental Protection Agency transition team.

“CEI stated that dishwasher cycle times have become dramatically longer under existing DOE energy conservation standards, and that consumer satisfaction/utility has dropped as a result of these longer cycle times,” according to the DOE’s grant of petition in July.

“The current dishwasher rules are a royal pain for huge numbers of consumers,” said Sam Kazman, General Counsel for CEI.

“That’s demonstrated by the overwhelming support that our petition received in both rounds of rule making, by the consumer survey that we submitted, and by the many detailed comments that consumers sent in describing how the poor performance of today’s models are a royal pain when it comes to running a household.”

Critics argue that dishwashers run slowly because they are more energy efficient. Allowing faster dishwashers to skip efficiency standards would weaken incentives for companies to create more efficient appliances. 

“Under the guise of responding to consumer complaints that today’s energy- and water-efficient dishwashers take too long, the Department of Energy has proposed creating a new class of dishwashers that wouldn’t be subject to any water or energy efficiency standards at all,” said Natural Resources Defense Council energy efficiency advocate Joe Vukovich in recent a blog post.

“That would not only undermine three decades of progress for consumers and the environment, the move is based on serious distortions of fact regarding today’s dishwashers,” Vukovich added.

In October, 12 states along with the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, the NRDC, the Sierra Club and Earthjustice expressed their various concerns with comments on the proposal.

This story has been updated.

Tags Dishwashers DOE standards
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