President Joe Biden’s Department of Energy (DOE) announced a proposal Friday to target American consumers’ home hot water heaters, following the administration’s consistent pattern of cracking down on various home appliances.
According to the DOE’s press release, the Biden administration’s new proposal would “require the most common-sized electric water heaters to achieve efficiency gains with heat pump technology and gas-fired instantaneous water heaters to achieve efficiency gains through condensing technology.”
The DOE claims the new energy standards for hot water heaters would result in $11 billion worth of annual utility bill savings for consumers, with $198 billion in savings over a 30-year period. The DOE also claims that the regulations would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 500 million tons over three decades.
“Today’s actions—together with our industry partners and stakeholders—improve outdated efficiency standards for common household appliances, which is essential to slashing utility bills for American families and cutting harmful carbon emissions,” U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm said. “This proposal reinforces the trajectory of consumer savings that forms the key pillar of Bidenomics and builds on the unprecedented actions already taken by this Administration to lower energy costs for working families across the nation.”
Although the DOE claims the administration’s proposed water heater standards would “accelerate deployment” of water heaters with electric heat pumps, critics told Fox news that the proposal would eliminate cheaper gas heater alternatives.
According to Fox News, gas-fired water heaters cost less for consumers to install due to the significantly smaller and cheaper design of the appliances.
In response to the proposal, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) tweeted “Leave us alone. These products already exist in the free market. Consumers should decide whether the upfront cost of a heat-pump water heater is worth the possible long term savings. In many cases, the monthly savings never make up for the upfront cost of the equipment.”
If adopted within the DOE’s proposed timeline, the new hot water heater mandates would take effect in 2029.
“It’s just spreading to more and more appliances,” Ben Lieberman, Competitive Enterprise Institute senior fellow, said. “It seems that almost everything that plugs in or fires up around the house is either subject to a pending regulation or soon will be.”
Lieberman added that rules like the DOE’s proposal for home hot water heaters are “almost always bad for consumers” because they ultimately “restrict consumer choice.”