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Biden Administration Imposes New Regulations On Air Conditioners

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


The administration of President Joe Biden has its sights set on new regulations for air conditioners after backing off of its idea to ban gas stoves.

The Department of Energy announced the new regulations on Thursday in a press release.

“The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today finalized new energy efficiency standards for room air conditioners—commonly known as window air conditioners—and portable air cleaners that will reduce household energy costs and significantly cut pollution. DOE expects these standards to save American families and consumers approximately $1.5 billion per year on their electricity bills and decrease harmful carbon dioxide emissions by 106 million metric tons over 30 years—an amount roughly equivalent to the combined annual emissions of 13.4 million homes. After moving quickly to address a backlog of Congressionally-mandated energy efficiency updates, today’s new rules underscore the President’s continued efforts to promote innovation and lower costs for families for families while tackling the climate crisis,” the press release said.

“Today’s announcement builds on the historic actions President Biden took last year to strengthen outdated energy efficiency standards, which will help save on people’s energy bills and reduce our nation’s carbon footprint,” Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm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

“The new rules will come into effect in 2024 for air cleaners and 2026 for room air conditioners. DOE expects the new rules to save consumers more than $25 billion over the ensuing 30 years of shipments. With these standards in place, households using new room air conditioners and portable air cleaners will save an estimated $150 over the average life of the appliances,” the press release said.

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“Previous DOE rules have substantially increased the energy efficiency of room air conditioners while allowing manufacturers the flexibility to continuously innovate and offer more features to consumers. Today, the typical new room air conditioner uses 39% less energy than its 1990 counterpart. In that 33-year span, DOE raised the efficiency standard for room air conditioners three times. These new standards will continue this trajectory of innovation and consumer savings,” it said.

“The direct final rule for portable air cleaners—which increases efficiency in two phases, beginning in 2024—reflects a consensus agreement among manufacturers, the manufacturing trade association, efficiency advocates, consumer advocacy groups, states, and utilities. This rule, the first federal standard for portable air cleaners, follows the lead of and builds on the efficiency standards already established by five states, extending the savings to consumers nationwide. As portable air cleaner sales increase, these standards will provide 27% in energy savings while ensuring efficient performance for improving indoor air quality,” The Department of Energy said.

“Collectively, DOE’s past and planned actions under the Biden-Harris Administration to improve energy efficiency standards will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 2.4 billion metric tons and save consumers $570 billion cumulatively over 30 years,” it said.

But not everyone sees it that way.

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“What these mandates, what these standards do is enforce a level of efficiency that doesn’t make sense,” Ben Lieberman of the Competitive Enterprise Institute said to Fox News.

“And they compromise product quality. We’ve already seen this to an extent with [the] cost of clothes washer standards,” he said.

An anonymous former official with the Department of Energy said that the regulations were misguided and would increase costs to consumers.

“Their philosophy is energy efficiency at all costs or energy efficiency no matter the cost,” the former official said.”

“That means we are going to see, as a result of their efficiency standards, higher-priced appliances. It’s that simple,” they said.

“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,” Jill Notini, a spokeswoman for the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, said.

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