Appliance Standards Are Expensive, And Regressive Too
The House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Energy will hold a hearing today on the Department of Energy’s (DOE) regulatory program that sets efficiency standards for commercial and consumer appliances. The title of the hearing offers a not-too-subtle hint as to what the Subcommittee thinks about this issue: “Wasted Energy: DOE’s Inaction on Efficiency Standards and Its Impact on Consumers and the Climate.”
Appliance efficiency standards, and their fuel-economy-standard cousins, receive bipartisan support and are touted as win-win opportunities. Advocates claim that they not only deliver substantial environmental benefits but also save consumers and businesses lots of money.
But do these standards really provide the dramatic benefits proponents claim? It’s true that more efficient appliances can reduce environmental emissions such as carbon dioxide. But these environmental benefits are typically quite small relative to the high costs of the standards. DOE’s analysis suggests the increased costs of the more efficient standards outweigh these benefits by a factor of 3 to 1 . Environmental benefits alone clearly don’t justify the standards DOE has set for most appliances.