U.S. Senate votes for higher utility bills and more air pollution

Media Contacts
Johanna Neumann

Senior Director, Campaign for 100% Renewable Energy, Environment America

A resolution passed by the U.S. Senate Tuesday to block new furnace efficiency standards would raise costs for households and cause needless pollution.

The standards—finalized by the Department of Energy last fall—are set to reduce energy costs for many households by about $50 annually while cutting 332 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions over 30 years of product sales.

“Today senators voted to needlessly increase air pollution,” said Johanna Neumann, senior director of Environment America’s Campaign for 100% Renewable Energy. “This vote threatens to hamper America’s efforts to build a cleaner, healthier future.”

Heating is the largest energy use for most homes. Until last year, furnace efficiency standards had not been meaningfully updated since they were set by Congress in 1987. The new standards finalized last year will require new furnaces—beginning in late 2028—to use about 15% less energy than today’s least efficient models.

“By rejecting common-sense energy efficiency standards for furnaces, senators voted to raise many of their constituents’ utility bills,” said Abe Scarr, utilities program director for U.S. PIRG. “That makes no sense.”

In the past 24 hours, more than 7,700 Environment America supporters contacted their senators urging them to oppose rolling back these common-sense energy efficiency standards that save energy, reduce pollution and save lives.

The Senate-passed resolution and one pending in the U.S. House of Representative would block the standards. President Biden has said he would veto the resolution.