Advocates urge action on appliance efficiency

Biden Administration has no wiggle room left to deliver on its pledged energy savings

Yazan Aboushi | Used by permission

On Wednesday, April 10th, in the wake of a watered-down version of a rule to improve the energy efficiency of utility transformers, staff from Environment America Research & Policy Center led a rally of climate, consumer and health advocates to urge the Biden administration to finalize strong appliance efficiency standards this term.

The Department of Energy has repeatedly stressed its commitment to issue standards that would save consumers nearly $1 trillion and avert 2.5 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. To achieve those ambitious-yet-reachable targets, the department needs to finalize more than a dozen pending product standards. 

The Biden administration has used up its wiggle room. Lisa Frank
Executive Director, Washington Legislative Office, Environment America

“For the sake of our health and our planet, and to hit the pollution reduction goals set by the administration, the government needs to deliver,” Frank said.

Members of Congress, including Senator Peter Welch from Vermont and U.S. Representative Kathy Castor joined advocates in urging the Department of Energy to finish the job on appliance efficiency standards and finish it strong.

Energy-efficient appliances are popular because they slash energy bills and keep more money in pocketbooks. Kathy Castor
U.S. Representative, Florida

Efficient appliances protect public health

More efficient appliances require less energy, which can lead to less air pollution and improvements in public health.

Child with nebulizer

Fine particulate matter is a dangerous form of air pollution that, when inhaled, can embed deep within the lungs or enter the bloodstream—causing a variety of negative respiratory, cardiovascular, and neurological health impacts. A recent report from CLASP illustrated how the reduced energy demand derived from appliance standards has already reduced fine particulate matter in the U.S., leading to a decline in related mortality. The study found that by reducing air pollution, efficiency standards are already averting 1,900 to 4,400 deaths in the United States every year. This means thousands of people not dying prematurely and having more time with friends and loved ones.

Reducing energy waste protects America’s children and families from asthma attacks, heart attacks and premature death. Katie Huffling
Executive Director, Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments
Sarah | Adobe Stock

Consumers benefit from efficiency standards

On top of their environmental and health benefits, appliance efficiency standards also offer a critical way to help consumers with utility bills. Berneta Hayes, Senior Attorney with the National Consumer Law Center said that the typical U.S. household spends about $500 less each year on utility bills because of existing efficiency standards for a range of products. 

She added that standards matter because many homeowners lack the time or information needed to choose to upgrade to more efficient appliances, especially if they are doing an emergency replacement. Many others are renters –often disproportionately low-income. Without strong, economically justified appliance standards, their landlord will install less expensive and less efficient equipment, burdening tenants with higher energy bills for decades to come. 

We’re urging the Biden Administration to get the job done. Berneta Hayes
Senior Attorney, National Consumer Law Center

What’s next on energy efficiency?

Finalizing strong energy efficiency standards, alongside solutions for pollution across other agencies, will help the Biden administration meet its goal of cutting climate pollution in half by the end of the decade. 

Energy efficiency standards for more than a dozen appliances are still pending at the Department of Energy, including those for residential water heaters and commercial and industrial fans and blowers. The Department of Energy’s proposal on home water heaters would deliver the largest energy-saving impact of any standard developed during this administration. 

You can show your support of more efficient water heaters by signing this petition to the Department of Energy.


Johanna Neumann

Senior Director, Campaign for 100% Renewable Energy, Environment America Research & Policy Center

Johanna directs strategy and staff for Environment America's energy campaigns at the local, state and national level. In her prior positions, she led the campaign to ban smoking in all Maryland workplaces, helped stop the construction of a new nuclear reactor on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay and helped build the support necessary to pass the EmPOWER Maryland Act, which set a goal of reducing the state’s per capita electricity use by 15 percent. She also currently serves on the board of Community Action Works. Johanna lives in Amherst, Massachusetts, with her family, where she enjoys growing dahlias, biking and the occasional game of goaltimate. 

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