By Ryan King
Water heaters could soon be subject to much more stringent efficiency requirements if a recent Department of Energy proposal that has been criticized by Republican lawmakers goes into effect.
In a draft rule unveiled Friday, the Biden administration is seeking to compel most electric water heaters to deploy heat pump technology and gas-fired ones to use condensing technology.
It comes months after the Biden administration ignited a firestorm over feared stove top regulations, after Albany lawmakers enacted a controversial first-in-the-nation gas stove ban in New York.
“Today’s actions—together with our industry partners and stakeholders—improve outdated efficiency standards for common household appliances, which is essential to slashing utility bills for American families and cutting harmful carbon emissions,” Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said in a statement.
The Biden administration anticipates the regulatory plan, set to go into effect by 2029, will save Americans $198 billion and slash CO2 emissions by 501 million metric tons over the next 30 years.
The department is planning to ratchet up the minimum efficiency standards for gas-fire water heaters, oil-fired storage water heaters, and gas-fired instantaneous water heaters.
The collective efficiency measures were set to save Americans $570 billion over three decades, officials said.
“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,” Granholm added.
Water heating comprises 23% of consumer utility costs and annual residential energy use, according to the department.
Congress requires the department to produce efficiency standards and it claims it last updated its policy on water heaters in 2010.
These new rules would to new water heaters that hit the market beginning in 2029.
The departments stressed that the Inflation Reduction Act championed by President Biden provides “tax credits, rebates, and other incentives” to help families save money on more efficient water heaters.
Already, the proposal is proving controversial with some Twitter users.
“First they came for your gas stoves. Then they came for your dishwashers. Next they came for your water heaters and air conditioners. Now the Biden apparatchiks are coming for your portable gas generators,” Forbes contributor David Blackmon tweeted.
“From the people who want showers and faucets without enough water pressure, dishwashers that don’t fully clean, washers and dryers that fully wash or dry, etc. they now want water heaters that don’t fully and quickly heat. All in the name of ‘environmentalism’ or ‘climate change,’” Ken Gardner tweeted.
“Leave us alone. These products already exist in the free market. 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,” Rep. Thomas Massive (R-Ky.) tweeted.
Over recent months, the department has also moved to tighten standards for a crop of household appliances, such as air conditioners, washing machines, refrigerators, and more.
Earlier this year, a member of the Consumer Product Safety Commission kicked up a frenzy by suggesting that a ban on gas stoves could be on the table.
Last month, the House voted to block the federal government from doing that in the future.
That bill has not yet been voted on by the Senate.
In December of last year, the Biden administration crowed that it had engaged in 110 actions to expand efficiency rules in 2022 to further its climate change goals.