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The Institute for Energy Research is a not-for-profit organization that conducts intensive research and analysis on the functions, operations, and government regulation of global energy markets.
Congress is considering various proposals to mandate energy efficiency improvements in appliances, air conditioners, heat pumps, dishwashers, clothes washers, and other items that use electricity. Americans, not policymakers, should be free to choose which appliances make the most sense for their families instead of being forced to purchase more expensive and more energy efficient appliances. Energy efficiency mandates are based on the premise that Americans consumers do not make wise choices about energy efficiency without the government forcing them to make “good” choices. Since then, washing machines have improved—but the energy efficiency mandates still make them more expensive than they would otherwise be.

Federal officials who desire to mandate energy efficiency standards apparently assume that households and businesses are not making smart choices about energy efficient appliances. Americans are intimately aware of the costs of their utility bills and are always looking for ways to balance the convenience of their appliances with energy savings. Appliances with greater energy efficiency cost more money—sometimes a lot more and frequently take more time to do the same amount of work.
In 2006, the Consumer Reports Best Buy for top-load washing machines only cost $380.[1] That was before the federal energy efficiency mandate for washing machines. The least expensive washing machine Consumer Reports recommends still costs $480[3] and the next lowest-priced recommend washing machine costs $650.[4] If a consumer saves $15 a year[5] in energy costs by using one of these more efficient washers, it takes nearly 5 years to recoup the extra costs of the $480 model and over 16 years to recoup the extra cost of the $650 model (even adjusting for inflation from 2006 to 2010).

When federal regulators step in and mandate energy efficiency improvements, the mandate increases the price of appliances and limits Americans’ choices.
Consumers pay attention to their electric bill, and that is especially the case with commercial users of appliances. According to data from the Association of Home Appliance Manufactures, household appliances are becoming much more efficient.

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