It’s hot out there, and summer cooling bills can make your temperature rise even further. Fortunately, there’s good news for consumers buying new air conditioners—improvements in efficiency will help keep you cool at a lower cost.
And the savings from efficiency goes beyond air conditioners– refrigerators, microwaves, water heaters, washers and dryers exist in nearly every home in America and they are among the leading sources of energy consumption in those homes. Improving energy efficiency for appliances like these is a key way to drive down utility costs for both homeowners and renters alike.
That’s why Consumers Union has long supported the Appliance and Equipment Standards Program, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Energy and sets the minimum energy efficiency standards for household appliances and commercial products.
The efficiency standards have had a measurable effect in reducing energy use in household appliances. Between 1987, when the program went into effect, and 2010, the average energy use of refrigerators and clothes washers decreased by 50% and 75%, respectively. The costs of those appliances also fell by 35% and 45% over that same period.
And this has had a profound, positive impact on consumers’ pocketbooks. According to the Department of Energy, efficiency gains from the standards saved consumers $63 billion on their utility bills, in 2015 alone. Today, the typical household saves $320 per year on energy bills as a result of these standards. The savings are expected to increase to $460 annually by 2030 as households replace older models with new more efficient models. All told, energy efficiency gains estimated through 2030 are expected to save consumers a total of $2 trillion.
These standards are even more important for low income families and renters. Low income families spend a higher proportion of their incomes on energy costs. Having strong efficiency standards to reduce energy consumption means direct savings for struggling families. Moreover, since property owners and landlords are likely to be making the decisions on rental property appliances, strong efficiency standards for even the low-cost options means low-income families benefit from the energy savings.
Energy efficiency gains are easing the burdens on household budgets across the country. Consumers Union strongly supports DOE’s appliance and equipment standards and recently joined other consumer advocates for a joint letter to the House of Representative’s Energy and Power subcommittee in support of these standards. Maintaining and strengthening these standards will lead to continued progress in consumer cost savings in the coming years.