Hands off our appliances, President Biden

The Biden administration recently announced the next attack in its never-ending regulatory war on Americans’ home appliances. This time, it is coming after water heaters.

It’s just the latest move in a long line of aggressive regulations on gas-powered stoves, dishwashers, washing machines, refrigerators, air conditioners, light bulbs and even cars. It appears that nearly every item Americans count on for making their daily lives more comfortable has been targeted for some sort of onerous regulation in the name of virtue signaling with marginal emission reductions.

Last year alone, the Department of Energy took more than 110 burdensome actions to ratchet up already stringent energy efficiency standards.

This top-down approach puts Washington in the driver’s seat, rather than allowing the free market to meet consumer preferences and drive innovation, efficiency gains and cost savings. With Washington wresting away appliance choices, American consumers are suffering as fewer, more expensive, and less effective options continue to lower quality of life.

The Biden administration’s message to Americans concerned about this costly government intrusion? Don’t look now!

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre helpfully reminded Americans concerned about the onslaught on appliance regulations that water heater regulations “would not take it into effect until 2029. So, let’s not forget that.”

To translate, “it’s not happening … yet. But it is coming.” As government consolidates control over consumer choices, Americans can be forgiven for not finding her assurances particularly comforting.

And they shouldn’t. As the regulatory assault seeks to push electric appliances over gas-powered appliances, Americans face increasingly centralized control over their daily energy use.

And though the administration promises lower utility costs in return, it is actively engaged in a war on traditional American energy that restricts American energy production and shuts down critical baseload power. That means more demand for more expensive, less reliable energy.

So not only do the appliances themselves face drawbacks such as poor performance, but the simultaneous self-inflicted wound on U.S. energy systems adds to the burden. Fundamentally, the administration is causing real harm to consumers, particularly working families and older adults on a fixed income.

However, “Nothing to see here, folks” has been the constant refrain from the left since Commissioner Richard Trumka of the Consumer Product Safety Commission mentioned a possible federal ban on gas stoves in January, setting off alarms for Americans around the country. Despite attempts to walk back his remarks, Americans are up in arms, demanding action to protect their gas stoves from their elected representatives.

Yet the administration continues to try to downplay the issue. In a recent House oversight hearing, aptly titled “Canceling Consumer Choice,” Geraldine Richmond, the Biden administration’s undersecretary for science and innovation, repeatedly laughed at the idea of someone “coming” to take gas-powered stoves away.

Americans are smart enough to know that aggressive regulations threaten to put appliances out of reach, even if the Biden administration now avoids the word “ban.” As the administration continues ratcheting up appliance regulations and reducing choices for consumers, it is critical for Americans to continue to see through the word games and understand that our quality of life is at stake.

Energy efficiency is already a factor that consumers consider when choosing appliances — however, they also have other considerations. Take the Biden administration’s latest offensive against dishwashers, which have already seen their cycle times almost double due to stringent regulations, and now face even further restrictions for a mere $1.12 per year in promised savings.

Or take water heaters — the Biden administration would require expensive condensing technology for gas-powered water heaters and heat pump technology for new electric water heaters. These mandated heaters are not only more expensive to buy and install, but the heat pump technology even fails to perform efficiently when not operating in moderate temperatures — a major drawback for those in colder climates.

American consumers are best positioned to weigh major trade-offs, including higher upfront costs, expensive installation, and appliances that do not work as well or fit individual preferences. Despite attempts at the recent hearing to downgrade appliance concerns to part of the “culture war” rather “than real kitchen table issues,” Americans are painfully aware of the skyrocketing costs of this regulatory assault on everyday items — many of which are essential to American kitchens.

The American people refuse to outsource daily decisions to unelected bureaucrats who want to dictate what car we drive to the store, what kind of stove we can cook on, and what kind of dishwasher we can use.

The Biden administration is pushing its radical climate agenda through China-style, top-down approaches that snatch away consumer choice. Instead, it should recognize that a consumer-driven, free-market economic strategy powers competition, innovation, prosperity, and environmental progress. That is in America’s DNA, and we can embrace it with hot showers, fast dishwashers, and cooking with gas.