A plan from the Department of Energy, currently facing opposition from Republican senators, could soon implement stricter efficiency standards for water heaters if it becomes law. This move is part of an effort by the Biden administration to mandate the usage of heat pump technology for most electric water heaters and condensing technology for gas-fired water heaters, according to a draft regulation.
The Department of Energy recently put forward the plan. This new directive comes after a controversy stirred by the administration’s proposed stovetop regulations, which resulted in a disputed Albany, New York, gas stove ban.
“By modernizing the efficiency standards of household appliances with our industry partners and stakeholders, we can substantially reduce utility bills for American families and curb harmful carbon emissions,” stated Jennifer Granholm, the Secretary of Energy.
The administration anticipates the plan, expected to take effect in 2029, will save Americans an estimated $198 billion and decrease CO2 emissions by 501 million metric tons over 30 years. However, these figures have been contested by numerous GOP analysts.
The plan would significantly raise minimum efficiency standards for oil-fired storage water heaters, gas-fired water heaters, and gas-fired instantaneous water heaters.
Granholm added, “This proposal aligns with the consumer savings ethos of Bidenomics and extends the administration’s ongoing efforts to decrease energy costs for working families nationwide.”
The agency cites that water heating contributes 23 percent of consumer utility expenses and annual residential energy use. As mandated by Congress, the agency is tasked with developing efficiency standards. The last significant policy change concerning water heaters happened in 2010.
Kentucky Republican U.S. Representative Thomas Massie expressed his skepticism regarding the proposed regulation. “These products are already in the free market. It should be up to consumers to determine if the initial cost of a heat-pump water heater is worth potential long-term savings. In many instances, the monthly savings don’t cover the upfront cost of the equipment,” Massie stated on Twitter.
Other social media users voiced their concerns as well. “This is from those who want low-pressure showers and faucets, inefficient dishwashers, and subpar washers and dryers. Now, they want water heaters that do not heat quickly and efficiently, all in the name of ‘environmentalism’ or ‘climate change,'” one user commented.
These new regulations would affect new water heaters sold from 2029 onwards. The administration noted that Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act includes incentives such as “tax credits, rebates, and other offers” to aid people in saving money on more efficient water heaters.
The proposal has generated widespread debate online. David Blackmon, a contributor for Forbes, wrote, “First, they came for your gas stoves. Then they came for your dishwashers. Next, your water heaters and air conditioners. Now Biden’s people are after your portable gas generators.”
Recently, the government has been strengthening requirements for various household appliances, including air conditioners, washing machines, and refrigerators. Suggesting a potential nationwide ban on gas stoves by a Consumer Product Safety Commission member stirred controversy earlier this year.
Last month, the House voted to prevent future bans by the federal government. The Senate is yet to vote on this issue. Last December, the Biden administration announced it had made 110 steps to enhance efficiency regulations in 2022 to support its climate change objectives.