Energy experts and manufacturers are warning that the Biden administration's aggressive regulatory regime will lead to more expensive household appliances that are far less effective than current models.

The Department of Energy (DOE) has made so-called energy efficiency standards a central part of its climate agenda since Biden took office, boasting that it has taken more than 110 actions on appliances in 2022 alone. According to experts, though, the regulations impacting everything from water heaters and furnaces to clothes washers and dishwashers could ultimately be counterproductive.

"What these mandates, what these standards, do is enforce a level of efficiency that doesn't make sense," Ben Lieberman, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, told Fox News Digital in an interview. "And they compromise product quality. We've already seen this to an extent with cost of clothes washer standards." 

"That's another problem — this is a regulatory program that's very long in the tooth and you're getting to the point where clothes washers — this might be the fifth time they've been regulated," he continued. "So we're really chasing after diminishing or nonexistent marginal returns."


Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm speaks during a press briefing at the White House. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

On his first day in office in January 2021, President Biden signed an executive order requiring the DOE to make "major revisions" to current appliance regulation standards and standards set by the Trump administration. A month later, the agency began moving forward on more than a dozen energy efficiency rules, impacting a wide range of appliances.

And the administration has continued introducing appliance regulations this year, unveiling rules in February that would restrict which cooking stoves, ovens, refrigerators and clothes washers consumers can purchase. The DOE said the efficiency rules would save consumers billions of dollars and "significantly reduce pollution" contributing to climate change.


"It should be up to the individual user as far as how much they choose to save," Travis Fisher, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation's Center for Energy, Climate and Environment, told Fox News Digital. "The concept of a mandate really comes from the idea that the government knows better than the end user of what kind of appliances they should be buying. I don't buy into that premise at all."

Like Fisher, Lieberman noted that manufacturers have already increased the overall efficiency of products and that consumers are free to make informed decisions based on what is available to them. He said mandating more restrictions will force prices higher and could lead to less effectiveness, thereby wasting more energy.

"These standards are counterproductive from the energy and environmental savings standpoint, but they're also a real inconvenience for consumers," said Lieberman. "They're not so convenient because you might have to do things more than once. Even if you do things once, your clothes washer and dishwasher cycle times are already longer."

washer dryer close up

A photo of a modern front-loading clothes washer and dryer. (iStock)

He added that the standards could result in dirtier clothes and dishes, forcing consumers to either run a second cycle or wash by hand, which would both waste more energy overall than current models.

A former senior DOE official argued the supposed savings from more-efficient appliances, which the Biden administration has touted as a main benefit of regulations, are minimal and often don't outweigh their higher price. 


"Their philosophy is energy efficiency at all costs or energy efficiency no matter the cost," the official told Fox News Digital. "That means we are going to see, as a result of their efficiency standards, higher-priced appliances. It's that simple.

"The reality is that we are not talking about saving huge amounts of energy from these new regulations."

For example, a recently released clothes washer model made by LG costs $10 per year in energy costs while a less-efficient, but lower-priced model also made by LG costs $16 per year, according to DOE data. Consumers may choose to pay the extra $6 per year in exchange for a more effective machine, the former DOE official said.

President Biden and Jennifer Granholm

On his first day in office in January 2021, President Biden signed an executive order requiring the Department of Energy to make "major revisions" to current appliance regulation standards and standards set by the Trump administration. (REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

The comments from experts come after the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), the leading U.S. trade group representing appliance makers and suppliers, issued a warning of its own, saying the DOE's recent clothes washer regulations "would have a disproportionate, negative impact on low-income households" by eliminating cheaper appliances from the market.

AHAM has also argued that the administration's appliance regulations targeting seven key areas — cooking, refrigerators and freezers, miscellaneous refrigeration, clothes washers, clothes dryers, microwave ovens and room air conditioners — will result in worse products. 


"There are seven that relate to home appliances, but it affects all major categories," Jill Notini, a spokesperson for AHAM, said in an interview. "The cumulative cost to manufacturers of all the major rules adds up to more than $2.25 billion. And this is really what we believe is just the tipping point of the impact."

"The consumer bears the real burden here. Clothes washers are expected, under the new rules that the U.S. is proposing, to cost $150 more than they do today. And consumers will save about $7 a year," she continued. "These savings really just don't add up right now during this time of high inflation."

Notini added that the DOE standards would force a staggering 98% of the top-loading clothes washer products currently being sold off the market within four years. 

Joe Biden speaks DNC rally

The Department of Energy has made so-called energy efficiency standards a central part of its climate agenda since President Biden took office. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

She also pointed to figures showing the industry has already improved efficiency by 70% over the last 20 years, while machines have gotten 50% larger on average.

"These are all policies that have very good intentions behind them for the environment," Notini continued. "But they don't make sense for the consumer and it's not going to make sense in the end because people are likely to run double cycles in order to achieve the same performance that they have from today's products."

"We will continue to work collaboratively with the DOE. Energy efficiency is due to a combination of innovation and standards. But we are the people that make the products and we understand what consumer needs are," she said. "We want to continue to make them energy efficient, but we need to be able to continue to make high-performing appliances with the features that people desire at the cost that they can afford."


The Energy Department, however, pushed back on criticism it has received related to its regulations on appliances, saying it aimed to promote cost savings without sacrificing effectiveness.

"Despite misleading claims to the contrary, these proposals are intended for nothing more than promoting innovation and keeping money in the pockets of Americans everywhere without sacrificing the reliability and performance that consumers expect and rely on," a DOE spokesperson told Fox News Digital.

"As evidenced in the Department’s testing and analysis, the proposed standards would not reduce product performance or negatively impact cleaning ability or cycle time."

Fox News Digital's Matteo Cina contributed to this report.