The national debate over energy and climate change has played out on a number of fronts. Even some of the more mundane matters have come under scrutiny.
For example, take the energy efficiency of dishwashers. This month, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) took action that will exempt a certain class of the appliance from existing requirements.
The final rule, adopted by the DOE on Oct. 19, establishes a separate class of so-called "short-cycle" dishwashers, which are defined as those having a normal cycle "of one hour or less from washing through drying."
As efficiency standards for these appliances have increased over the years, cycles have become longer, typically more than two hours, to maintain effectiveness while using less energy and water.
Short-cycle dishwashers will not be subject to the same set of efficiency standards that apply to all other models. According to the rule, the DOE "intends to determine the specific energy and water conservation standards for the new product class in a separate rulemaking."
The rulemaking stems from a petition filed by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Washington, D.C., in 2018. The petition claims that consumer satisfaction has dropped while cycle times have become "dramatically longer.”
It remains to be seen whether the new rule will result in a flood of new "short-cycle" models on the market, or if customers will be rushing out to purchase them.
While the DOE defended the new rule, saying it will give consumers greater choice, not all stakeholders agree.
A broad-based coalition based in Boston and dedicated to appliance efficiency standards called the Appliance Standards Awareness Project (ASAP) protested that the new rule "will do nothing to improve today’s machines," adding that it "will neither make dishwashers perform better nor offer quicker cycles.”
ASAP explained that "dishwasher water and energy use have declined by more than 50% over the past three decades,” and that short cycles are already a "ubiquitous" feature.