We have seen a big consumer backlash in 2023 over Biden administration bureaucrats targeting gas stoves, but that could pale in comparison to the coming anger over costly air conditioning regulations.
In fact, that has already begun, making this unusually hot summer even more unpleasant for homeowners needing air conditioner repairs. And things could get downright ugly starting next summer.
The Environmental Protect Agency (EPA) just announced a 40% production cut in 2024 for hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), the widely used class of refrigerants being targeted for their claimed contribution to climate change. As it is, the modest 10% cut in force today has already caused many HFCs to triple in price, including HFC-410a which is used in most home air conditioners.
As a result, replacing refrigerant lost from a leak has cost millions of homeowners at least $150-$200 more than it used to. But next summer, stricter production quotas will be in effect, likely sending refrigerant costs through the roof — and repair costs with them.
EPA regulators are targeting new systems too. A pending rule would outlaw all but the most climate-friendly, new central air-conditioners by 2025. Doing so is strongly supported by the air conditioning equipment makers who see an opportunity to skew the market towards their pricier models.
It would be bad enough if EPA were the only federal agency that has it in for affordable air conditioning, but the Department of Energy (DOE) is just as bad. DOE has a track record for concocting energy efficiency regulations for air conditioners and other appliances that boost a homeowner’s up-front cost so much that it may never get earned back in the form of energy savings.
Perhaps the worst of them, created at the end of the Obama administration and taking effect on January 1 of this year, has caused prices for new central air conditioning systems to spike by up to $1,000, according to several installers.
And the agency is already in the early stages of devising an even tougher rule. Separate rulemakings also target window unit air conditioners and other categories of cooling systems.
What explains the anti-homeowner tilt? Like much of the nonsense coming from Washington these days, it’s based on the Energy Department's "need to confront the global climate crisis."
Indeed, beyond air conditioners and stoves, Biden’s regulators are going after furnaces, incandescent light bulbs, washing machines, refrigerators, dishwashers, ceiling fans, water heaters and other home appliances.
Hardly any room in your house will be spared, and each proposed new regulation asserts that the climate-related benefits help justify the extra cost. All of this meddling is bad news for consumers, but the measures targeting air conditioners will likely prove to be the worst of the bunch.
The one-two punch of both EPA and DOE aiming their red tape at air conditioners has already boosted the cost of staying cool this summer, and starting next year the homeowner pain could be every bit as unbearable as the heat.