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Obama's War on Dishwashers

In an effort to meet President Obama’s greenhouse gas emissions goals, the Department of Energy is going after dishwashers. And if that sounds ridiculous to start, wait til you hear the details.


According to a recent proposal, the DOE wants each dishwasher to complete a load of dirty dishes using only 3.1 gallons of water, among other efficiency changes. Currently, 5 gallons are permitted, which is down from the 6.5 gallons that were standard before similar DOE regulations were passed in 2012.

Industry experts are now pushing back, and rightfully so. These regulations would do more harm than good for both the environment and American consumers, “essentially turning back the clock to the days of hand-washing dishes,” according to the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers.

Here’s why:

Home appliance manufacturers recently completed several rounds of testing to the proposed standards. The testing revealed a build-up of film, fats and grease on dishes at the end of the cycle. As a result of the proposed standards, it is highly likely that consumers will pre-wash dishes or choose to repeat dishwasher cycles, thereby erasing any energy or water savings.

In other words, the 70 percent of American families who use dishwashers will likely waste even more water (not to mention time) trying to get the dishes done.

The agency initially proposed the changes in December. It estimates the changes would save 240 billion gallons of water over the next three decades. DOE figures also estimate the proposals would reduce energy consumption by 12 percent and save consumers $2 billion in utility bills.

But it could also raise the price tag on washers. Ernest Istook, former Republican congressman from Oklahoma, wrote in a Washington Times piece that complying with the 2012 rule, based on DOE estimates, added roughly $44 to the cost of each machine. “Now their 2015 proposal will add another $99 to the price tag, even by DOE’s own admission,” he wrote.


The comment period has been re-opened and DOE told The Hill it will work with manufacturers to develop the “most efficient, highest performing product available.”

But if DOE couldn’t even bother to inform those affected, like AHAM, which says it caught wind of the proposal when it was in its final stage, the second comment period, then, is likely little more than show. Just take a look at how the pizza and restaurant industries fared after trying to reason with FDA bureaucrats ahead of its menu labeling regulation. My guess is that this won’t end well for businesses, consumers, or the environment.

Get your gloves ready, America. 

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