Updated! Washington — Dishwashers and cooking appliances will have to meet higher energy standards as early as August under a new initiative announced today by President Obama as part of his economic recovery plan.
In an address before the Department of Energy (DOE), Obama said he has signed a presidential memorandum requesting the agency to “set new efficiency standards for common household appliances. This will save consumers money. This will spur innovation. And this will conserve tremendous amounts energy.
“We’ll save through these simple steps over the next 30 years the amount of energy produced over a two-year period by all the coal-fired power plants in America," the president said.
The White House described the directive as “an important shift in policy that will get us closer to energy independence.”
The action is designed to tighten deadlines that were set under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 and other existing legislation, but that were either missed or tied up litigation, the Associated Press reported.
Although the memorandum has not yet been released, administration aides told the wire service that the new rules would affect dishwashers, ovens, ranges and microwave ovens in addition to certain commercial appliances, with priority given to standards that can deliver the biggest savings to consumers.
The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), the white goods industry trade group, said it "supports an effort to make sure DOE meets all its deadlines," but warns that "the old adage, haste makes waste, rings true here. DOE’s must evaluate energy savings, consumer costs, technological feasibility and product performance in order to generate responsible appliance efficiency requirements. They need sufficient resources to do this job properly."
AHAM added that it "looks forward to working with the Obama Administration to further enhance appliance efficiency," and noted that it is presently engaged with the DOE on several appliance efficiency standards rulemakings.
AHAM supports a $300 million provision the House Appropriations Committee added to the economic stimulus package to cover the cost of consumer rebates under the Energy Star program. The program, authorized in 2005, provides consumers with guidelines and incentives to purchase energy-efficient appliances and CE products.