Appliance Standards Promote Innovation & Yield Energy Savings

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Your kitchen is a battleground in Obama energy efficiency push

Chicago Tribune, January 9, 2016. Image credit: Mikhail Golub

No, literally. Since 2009, his administration has created 43 rules that will deliver the biggest energy savings of any president in history, eliminating demand in 2030 equal to the electricity produced by 96 power plants, based on a consumer group’s estimates. And among the most effective is one that has the family refrigerator running on less power than it takes to light a 50-watt bulb.

A rule completed last month will shrink the energy used by commercial rooftop air conditioners and furnaces, an effort the U.S. government projects will save 1.7 trillion kilowatt-hours of electricity over 30 years, more than any other change since efficiency laws were enacted in 1975. Supporters say the changes will cut power bills. Opponents warn appliance costs will rise as manufacturers spend tens of millions redesigning products.

Few energy-consuming devices have been spared from the rule changes. They cover everything from clothes washers and dryers to ceiling fan light kits and beverage vending machines, with the president pledging to review 17 more standards for possible revision before the end of his term. The Energy Department has estimated that the reductions will save consumers more than $520 billion through 2030 in electricity costs.

All the standards updated during Obama’s presidency may cut 3 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide by 2030, equal to about half the carbon pollution from the entire U.S. energy sector in a year, according to the Energy Department.

In 2016, energy reductions may reach about 130 billion kilowatt-hours and save consumers about $14 billion, according to deLaski of Appliance Standards Awareness Project.

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