For more than 50 years, Americans have used washing machines to clean their clothes and dryers to dry them. Manufacturers built highly effective products that did the job quickly so people had the time to do other things they valued more. Sadly, in the last few decades, the government has been slowly decreasing the energy such machines could use, causing them to take longer and clean less effectively. But the Department of Energy (DOE) is proposing to solve this problem by once again allow manufacturers to produce machines that can clean clothes quickly and thoroughly and get them dried much faster.
Not only are clothes washers and dryers getting fixed, but shower heads will be able to use more water to allow clean and faster showers. DOE is proposing to allow multiple showers heads, each of which has the existing water limits, but allowing more total water for your shower.
For years the government has been demanding that our appliances use less and less energy and water. In the last 30 years, the allowed energy usage for washing machines has dropped by 75 percent, water usage by 50 percent. But mandating that such limited amounts of energy and water be used has a cost in time and cleaning power.
The old top-loading machines with a central agitator are being replaced with the slower front-loading and less effective at cleaning machines of today. Dryers are also being required to use less energy, taking longer to fully dry. Today, almost all washing machines take longer than a half hour and dryers longer than 45 minutes.
But the Department of Energy is looking to fix that by returning the ability to have fast effective appliances. Clothes washers and dryers that can finish faster than the current models (less than 30 minutes for a washing machine and 45 minutes for a dryer) will be allowed to use more energy than the current rules mandate. People will be able to continue to buy the slower less-effective models of today if they wish, or they can buy the new faster and better cleaning models of the future. This rulemaking doesn’t establish the exact water and energy limits for this new class of washers and dryers; it just establishes that such faster more effective products are needed.
For shower heads, the current rules limit the amount of water that can be used on a “shower head.” While this limited amount of water works for some, for many consumers it takes longer to effectively get clean with the limited amount of water that is provided. Some have gone so far as to, after purchasing the showerheads, remove the limiter that the federal government requires. The proposed change here is simply to limit the rules to only apply to one shower head if multiple ones are used. Then manufacturers can design multiple shower heads in a single device that provides the total water amounts that the consumer needs.
These changes will only occur if people want them, and the Department of Energy needs to hear from consumers if they want fixes to these products. The DOE is taking comments right now, but not for long. If you wish to ask DOE for faster washers and dryers you can click here by October 5. If you wish to ask DOE to allow more total water in showers click here by September 30.
(This post has been updated.)