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Department of Energy Takes Important Step on Efficiency Standards for Refrigerators and Clothes Washers

Updated Standards Will Save Consumers on Utility Bills Through Improved Energy and Water Technologies

Washington, D.C. – Today, the Department of Energy (DOE) proposed updated efficiency standards for refrigerators and clothes washers. The Consumer Federation of America supports the Biden Administration’s proposed rules which will benefit consumers when they need to replace inefficient refrigerators and clothes washers. The rules will save consumers money on electricity and water bills and reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.

“The long-awaited update to refrigerator and clothes washer standards is welcome news for consumers and, in particular, financially struggling households who, on average, have disproportionately higher energy burdens,” said Richard Eckman, an Energy Advocate at the Consumer Federation of America. “Our surveys over the past decade show that consumers overwhelmingly want more energy efficient appliances and strongly support stronger Federal standards. Having stronger standards in place will ensure that those products meet a higher threshold of efficiency, thereby saving financially strapped Americans money on their utility bills. This is especially beneficial for renters, who rarely get to choose their own refrigerator and clothes washer, and are stuck paying a greater percentage of their income on utility bills than homeowners do.[i] Strong efficiency standards can help ensure that landlords buy efficient appliances for their tenants.”

The current federal standards for refrigerators and clothes washers have both been in place for over a decade, even as energy and water-saving technologies have improved. American households have waited longer than necessary for pocketbook savings from more efficient clothes washers and refrigerators. Together the two standards would save consumers $425 on their utility bills over the life of the appliances.[ii]

The Consumer Federation of America applauds the Department of Energy for proposing updated efficiency standards for refrigerators and clothes washers and urges the Department to issue the final rules as soon as is practicable. The urgency of phasing out inefficient appliances has never been more pressing; as high energy prices continue to hit consumer pocketbooks, the western United States grapples with an ongoing water crisis, and the planet continues to warm because of climate change.

[i] A recent CFA-CLASP survey found that product failure is the main reason that homeowners and landlords replace their clothes washers and refrigerators.

[ii] The standards would save American consumers $3.5 billion per year on their energy and water bills.