Get the government out of our appliances

Last week CFACT’s Co-founder Craig Rucker posted a call to action, titled simply “Make dishwashers fast again.”

He explained it succinctly, saying: “If you brought home any new appliances recently, you no doubt noticed something strange. They look great, but take forever to work. The Department of Energy is considering fixing this problem, specifically when it comes to dishwashers, and has asked for public comment.”

The request for comments from DOE’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Office was triggered by a petition from our esteemed colleagues at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI). The comment period was short and is now closed, but DOE got over 2300 comments, many quite pointed. For example:

Make dishwashers great again. It should not take 2-3 hours to clean a dishwasher full of dirty dishes.”

My dishwasher has a life of its own. It goes on forever while washing my dishes while I wait patiently for it to finish. I am tired of waiting and waiting. Please do something...”

I got my comment in as well, going beyond dishwashers to the whole goofy issue of federal regulation of appliances.

Here is my comment:

Energy efficiency means doing the same job with less energy. If performance is degraded then this is energy rationing or restriction, not energy efficiency. DOE has no statutory authorization or mandate to impose energy rationing or restriction on appliances.

As CEI suggests by its petition, appliances should first be classed by their performance. Efficiency standards should then be set in such a way that there is no degradation of performance.

Instead, DOE appears to have classified appliances simply according to what they do, without consideration of specific performance. As a result, energy efficiency standards may have been set that degrade performance. If so then this is a significant error on DOE’s part, one which needs to be corrected.

There also needs to be a procedure whereby performance can be improved, even if it requires using more energy. Energy efficiency should not be a bar to performance improvement.

Reducing performance in the name of efficiency is government imposed asceticism.

Even worse, the law under which DOE deliberately degrades appliance performance does not mention energy efficiency. It claims to be about something called “energy conservation,” which is a nonsensical political slogan. Electric energy that is not used is not somehow conserved. It is not waiting to be used. It does not exist.

Mind you, if they called this the “We don’t want you to use electricity to make your lives better” bill, its chances of passages would be slim to none.

Given the present climate change hysteria, it might get some votes if it were titled the “Fossil fuel use reduction” bill. But now the problem is that a lot of electricity does not come from fossil fuels. If it comes from wind, hydro or solar then there is nothing to constrain or conserve, quite the contrary.

The real point here is that this entire law and practice is woefully obsolete. It is a silly reaction to a 1970’s scare. As such it should be repealed. There is absolutely no reason for the US Department of Energy to be telling dishwasher makers how to do their job.

Dishwashers serve an extremely useful purpose, freeing up hundreds of millions of hours of American people’s time every year. Their makers should be allowed to make them work well, not governed by some harebrained federal “energy conservation” mandate from the last century.

End of Comment

Make appliances great again. Get the Government out of them.


About the Author: David Wojick, Ph.D.

David Wojick is a journalist and policy analyst. He holds a doctorate in epistemology, specializing in the field of Mathematical Logic and Conceptual Analysis.