Department of Energy Planning Costly New Rules for Clothes Washers

Washington, DC, December 4, 2000 – CEI today filed regulatory comments with the Department of Energy (DOE) in opposition to its proposed rules on energy conservation standards for clothes washers.

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“These proposed rules will not only raise costs, but will restrict consumer choice and may adversely affect product performance,” said Ben Lieberman, policy analyst with the Competitive Enterprise Institute. According to DOE’s estimates, clothes washers will cost at least $200 more when the standards take full effect. In addition, these standards will likely result in a market dominated by front loading models, rather than the top loading designs currently preferred by most consumers.


DOE claims that the higher purchase price will be earned back through lower utility bills, but the agency admits that payback periods stretch out for many years, and that some consumers will never see a net benefit. “Spending a lot to save a little in energy is often a losing proposition,” added Lieberman, noting that DOE has a track record for overstating energy savings.


One-size-fits-all standards also fail to account for individual differences. For example, one or two person households would almost certainly lose out, because they do not do enough laundry to recoup the higher initial cost of a compliant clothes washer. “The decision as to what kind of home appliance to buy should rest with the consumer, not the federal government,” added Lieberman.



CEI, a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group founded in 1984, is dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government. For more information, please contact Richard Morrison, director of media relations, at 202-331-1010, ext. 209.