In recent months, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has proposed or finalized updates to existing energy efficiency standards for certain home appliances. The proposed or final standards building upon a decades-long partnership with industry that aim to improve the efficiency of appliances, reduce harmful impacts to consumers and the environment, and provide more Americans the opportunity to save on their utility bills.
DOE is required by Congress to review appliance energy conservation standards and determine whether to amend such standards, but misconceptions surrounding proposed or final standards could jeopardize potential savings for Americans or even their health.
To clear the record, DOE is shedding light on a few common myths in current circulation.
MYTH: Incandescent light bulbs are brighter and less expensive than LED bulbs.
LEDs consume 75% less energy and last up to 25 to 50 times longer than incandescent lightbulbs. Last year, DOE took action to increase access to LED bulbs by announcing rules to implement the Congressional efficacy standard which would encourage the manufacturing of LED bulbs and improve their availability to Americans nationwide. These rules are expected to save Americans $3 billion per year in utilities and cut carbon emissions by 222 million metric tons over the course of 30 years.
MYTH: The federal government wants to ban gas stoves.
Claims that the federal government is banning gas stoves are absurd. Neither DOE nor the federal government plans to ban gas stoves. In February 2023, DOE published a proposal that would improve efficiency of gas and electric stoves. If implemented, the standards would not go into effect until 2027 and help U.S. consumers save up to $1.7 billion. As required by congressional mandate, DOE is determined to ensure consumers have multiple options that are both cost-effective and energy efficient.
MYTH: New standards would make washing machines and refrigerators less effective.
In 1973, a new refrigerator consumed 75% more energy and had 20% less storage space than a new fridge on the market today. Today’s clothes washers use 70% less energy than in 1990 and offer 50% more tub capacity. Increased efficiency and additional storage space are the result of appliance standards and manufacturer innovation, which is why the agency proposed long overdue updates to these appliances. Americans could see savings of approximately $3.5 billion per year on their energy and water bills with the new proposal for washing machines and refrigerators, if finalized.
MYTH: New rules on air conditioner window units would make A/C less reliable and more expensive during periods of high heat.
In March 2023, DOE finalized rules on new room air conditioners, or window air conditioners, that would go into effect in 2026. These rules will help Americans save up to $816 million per year in energy costs and decrease harmful carbon dioxide emissions by 48.5 million metric tons over 30 years. Since 1990, DOE has raised standards on room air conditioners three times, and, as a result today’s new room air conditioners use 39% less energy. The agency expects to continue these energy efficient trends by promoting innovation without sacrificing convenience.
MYTH: Proposed standards on dishwashers will leave dishes less clean.
DOE disputes claims that proposed standards on dishwashers would impact their effectiveness or result in longer wash times. In fact, the agency has adopted a cleaning test in its test procedure to help ensure that valid energy and water ratings produce clean dishes. DOE estimates the proposed standards will result in 0.31 quads of energy savings and 240 billion gallons of water corresponding to 12.5 million metric tons of CO2 over 30 years of shipments.
When you look past the misleading rhetoric, you’ll see that these proposals are intended for nothing more than promoting innovation and increasing energy efficiency without sacrificing the reliability and performance that Americans have come to expect and rely on.
The Department of Energy will continue to ensure Americans have access to safe, efficient, and affordable home appliances. To help Americans save energy and save money, the agency has established the Energy Savings Hub to connect consumers to historic tax credits and forthcoming rebates that may help bring down energy costs or the cost of an electric vehicle.