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Meg Waltner’s Blog

New Standards for Clothes Washers and Dishwashers Great News for Consumers

Meg Waltner

Posted May 16, 2012 in Curbing Pollution, Living Sustainably, Solving Global Warming, U.S. Law and Policy

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Clothes washers and dishwashers meeting new energy efficiency standards announced today will continue to wash clothes and dishes well, without washing away hard earned cash.

The standards issued by DOE today will require clothes washers to use up to 35 percent less energy by 2018. Standards for dishwashers will require units to use about 14 percent less energy and 23 percent less water by 2013. According to analysis by ACEEE and ASAP, the new standards will save about 8 billion kWh of electricity, 280 million therms of natural gas, and 175 billion gallons of water annually by 2025.  This is approximately equivalent to the amount of electricity used by 700,000 U.S. homes, the amount of natural gas used to heat 500,000 U.S. homes and enough water to meet the needs of 3 million Americans. According to DOE, the standards will also reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 117 MMT cumulatively over 30 years, in addition to reducing NOx and mercury emissions. For both products, the first ever water efficiency standards were set in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, and today’s rules make significant further gains in water efficiency, which my colleague Ed Osann blogs about here. Not only will washers that meet these standards save consumers money and reduce pollution, but they will also continue to wash clothes and dishes just as well.

The new standards are set at levels negotiated by manufacturers, consumer advocates, and efficiency and environmental groups in a joint agreement that was finalized in 2010  which also included standards for refrigerators, freezers, dryers, and room air conditioners that were issued by DOE last year. Today’s standards will add on to the significant savings already in the pipeline due to new appliance standards issued since 2009, which together will save a cumulative 27.5 quads through 2035. That’s almost 30 percent of the total energy used in the US each year!

Today’s rule adds another success to the list that DOE should be proud of. The rule is a big win for consumers and will ensure a future with high-quality washers that cut energy bills and pollution. Consumers can rest assured with today’s new standards, the only money they’ll be washing down the drain is the forgotten dollar bill in their jeans’ pocket. 

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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