The U.S. Department of Energy has finalized or proposed more than 15 regulations that affect everyday household appliances, from dishwashers to the incandescent lightbulbs in nearly every room in your house. Other rules include gas furnacesclothes dryersmicrowave ovensgas stoveswashing machinesdishwashers, and refrigerators. There is only more to come in 2024 with the finalization of the consumer boilerceiling fan, and walk-in cooler and freezer rules expected this year. 

When the DOE finalized standards for refrigerators and freezers last year, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm claimed the rules demonstrated “the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to lowering utility costs for working families.” She went on to say, “DOE will continue to move quickly in 2024 — together with our industry partners and stakeholders — to update and strengthen outdated energy efficiency standards, which is critical to innovation, more consumer options, and healthier communities.”

Make no mistake: these household appliance regulations won’t lower costs but will have the opposite effect by stifling innovation and limiting consumer options. They were not passed for the sake of consumer well-being, but rather as part of the Biden administration’s aggressive climate agenda to achieve “a net zero economy by 2050” and the push to electrify. 

The rules hurt everyday people, especially lower-income and middle-class households, by increasing costs and diminishing consumer options. 

Cumulatively, these regulations could add more than $9,000 to a household’s bill. That, coupled with the rising costs of homeownership, groceries, and medical bills, makes average living nearly impossible.

In particular, the finalized gas furnace rule going into effect in 2028 will make it burdensome for low-income households that live in older, smaller homes to replace their furnaces. It is expected to increase costs for 30% of senior-only households, 26% of low-income households, and 27% of small-business consumers. In total, the rule could increase costs for 55% of households.  

In addition to rising costs, the central problem with these regulations is that they are not only placing restrictions on appliances, but are, in effect, banning whole classes of appliances. This removes options from the market, stifling competition and innovation and hurting consumers and small businesses alike. 

For example, if the ceiling fan rule is finalized, 10% to 30% of small-business ceiling producers are expected to go out of business. The washing machine rule could eliminate 98% of washing machine models from the market within four years. The lightbulb rule effectively does away with the sale of incandescent lightbulbs. The gas furnace regulation will remove up to 60% of current consumer furnaces from the market, effectively getting rid of the option of noncondensing gas furnaces. The DOE itself estimated that without the rule, noncondensing furnaces would make up 42% of the furnace market in 2029.

Thankfully, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the DOE engaged in unconstitutional rulemaking when it implemented its washing machine and dishwasher standards. Others are filing lawsuits against the standard, and some lawmakers have cited the Congressional Review Act in an effort to block the bans. We can only hope for more challenges to these aggressive rules in 2024.   

The Biden administration wants people to have a one-size-fits-all home that only it approves. But by forcing consumers to transition to unreliable household appliances and throwing efficiency out the window, the government jeopardizes our living standards.