Recently, the Department of Energy has put forth a proposal that may impose tighter efficiency guidelines on water heaters, a move that has drawn criticism from Republican representatives. The proposal, revealed last Friday by the Biden administration, proposes that most electric water heaters adopt heat pump technology and gas-fired ones employ condensing technology.
This follows months of controversy sparked by the administration’s supposed regulations on stovetop appliances after Albany legislators in New York initiated a contentious ban on gas stoves – a first of its kind in the nation.
“Through our collective efforts with industry collaborators and stakeholders, we are revamping outdated efficiency standards for common household devices, which is crucial for reducing household utility bills and mitigating detrimental carbon emissions,” noted Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm.
The Biden administration projects that the proposed regulations, slated to be implemented by 2029, will yield savings of $198 billion for Americans, while reducing CO2 emissions by 501 million metric tons over the next three decades.
There are plans to elevate the minimum efficiency benchmarks for gas-fired, oil-fired storage, and instantaneous gas-fired water heaters. These collective efficiency measures are projected to result in savings of $570 billion for Americans over a thirty-year period, according to officials.
Granholm further commented, “This proposal builds upon the actions already undertaken by the administration to cut energy costs for working families across the nation, cementing the key tenet of consumer savings in Bidenomics.”
Water heating is responsible for 23% of annual residential energy consumption and customer utility costs, as stated by the department. The department is mandated by Congress to develop efficiency standards, with the last policy update on water heaters taking place in 2010.
The new regulations are aimed at water heaters introduced to the market from 2029 onward. The department emphasized that the Inflation Reduction Act, supported by President Biden, offers “tax credits, rebates, and other incentives” to help families save money on more efficient water heaters.
However, the proposal is already facing backlash on social media platforms like Twitter.
David Blackmon, a Forbes contributor, tweeted, “First they targeted your gas stoves, followed by your dishwashers, then your water heaters and air conditioners. Now the Biden functionaries are after your portable gas generators.” Similarly, Ken Gardner tweeted about the supposed lack of practicality of these new measures in the name of “environmentalism” or “climate change.”
Republican Representative Thomas Massive of Kentucky argued, “Leave us be. These products are already available in the free market. It should be up to the consumer to decide whether the initial cost of a heat-pump water heater outweighs potential long-term savings. Often, the monthly savings don’t compensate for the upfront cost of the device.”
In recent times, the department has also made efforts to enforce stricter standards on household appliances like air conditioners, washing machines, and refrigerators. Earlier this year, speculation of a potential ban on gas stoves emerged following a comment from a member of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
The House voted last month to prevent the federal government from implementing such a ban in the future. This bill is awaiting a Senate vote.
Last December, the Biden administration announced that it had implemented 110 actions to broaden efficiency rules in 2022, in line with its climate change objectives.