Leading advocacy groups file federal legal appeals to protect efficiency standards for showerheads, clothes washers and dryers

Media Contacts
Matt Casale

Former Director, Environment Campaigns, PIRG

The challenge to two recent Department of Energy rules looks to undo the bypassing of water and energy standards


CHICAGO — Environment America, U.S. PIRG and the Alliance for Water Efficiency have filed two appeals to protect federal efficiency standards for showerheadsclothes washers and dryers. The suits challenge two new Department of Energy rules. One rule changes the definition of a showerhead, and the other rule creates a new class of clothes washers and dryers with no water or energy-saving requirements. 

Up until now, showerheads could not be sold in the United States if they released more than 2.5 gallons per minute of water. The Department of Energy’s new rule changes that regulation so that each nozzle on a showerhead could meet that standard. That means showerheads with multiple nozzles bypass the standard, expelling far more water and consuming more energy (which is required to heat the water) than previously allowed.

The clothes washers and dryers rule creates a separate class of “short-cycle” machines that do not need to meet current federal water or energy efficiency standards. 

“For decades, efficiency standards for showerheads, clothes washers and dryers have created a win-win-win situation for consumers by saving energy, water and money,” said U.S. PIRG Environment Campaigns Director Matt Casale. “We’ve filed these appeals because it makes absolutely no sense to reverse policies that have successfully lowered our carbon emissions and reduced utility bill costs for Americans. We have nothing to gain and plenty to lose as a result of these poor decisions.” 

The legal appeal against the showerhead rule is not the first effort by these groups to protect showerhead efficiency. In October, Environment America submitted 10,184 member comments pushing back against the rule. In addition, Environment America, U.S. PIRG and their state organizations submitted a comment urging the Department of Energy (DOE) to protect consumers and the planet by maintaining showerhead efficiency standards. 

“These Department of Energy rules set up tens of thousands of Americans to needlessly and unintentionally waste water and energy each time they hop in the shower and clean their clothes,” said Environment America Energy Conservation and Efficiency Associate Brynn Furey. “Our decision makers should encourage products that safeguard our water and energy. Instead, they are sending sensible standards down the proverbial drain.”

The Alliance for Water Efficiency also submitted detailed comments signed by 60 water utilities and other organizations to the Department of Energy about the showerhead rule. 

“We are pleased to participate in this appeal, as we are especially concerned about the impact of the showerhead rule,” said Mary Ann Dickinson, president and CEO of the Alliance for Water Efficiency.  “This misguided rule would waste billions of gallons of water and significantly raise consumers’ water bills. It would also severely compromise water supply availability for many water utilities, especially in the arid West.”

The legal appeals were filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.