The Department of Energy (DOE) announced on Friday a plan to crack down on home hot water heaters, part of a string of proposed rules from the Biden administration on appliances that critics warn will limit consumer power.
The new proposed rule would tighten requirements for water heaters, dictating that “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,” according to a press release from the agency.
Such standards would save consumers $11 billion annually on utility bills and $198 billion for Americans over a 30-year period, DOE said. The regulations would also reduce greenhouse gas emissions by roughly 500 million tons during the same time period, the agency claimed.
“Today’s actions — together with our industry partners and stakeholders — improve outdated efficiency standards for common household appliances, which is essential to slashing utility bills for American families and cutting harmful carbon emissions,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a statement.
“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,” she added.
While DOE said the proposed standards would “accelerate deployment” of electric heat pump water heaters, Fox News reported they would force cheaper gas heaters off the market. The news outlet noted that non-condensing gas-fired heaters are cheaper, having a smaller size and lower installation costs.
Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) said the Biden administration should “Leave us alone,” arguing that the proposed rule is unlikely to actually benefit many Americans financially because of the cost of equipment.
“These products already exist in the free market,” the congressman said. “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.”
DOE said the new rule would go into effect in 2029 if adopted within the proposed timeline. As reported by The Washington Post, the proposed standards could still be revised after the agency intakes public comments and holds a public hearing.
The Biden administration has finalized or proposed 18 different efficiency standards for a variety of products, DOE said. These include gas stoves, air conditioners, washing machines, and refrigerators, per Fox News.
“It’s just spreading to more and more appliances,” Ben Lieberman, senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, told Fox News Digital. “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.”
“These rules are almost always bad for consumers for the simple reason that they restrict consumer choice,” he added.