Statement: Congress votes for energy-wasting legislation

Media Contacts
Abe Scarr

State Director, Illinois PIRG; Energy and Utilities Program Director, PIRG

Bill would burden Americans with higher bills, worse health

The U.S. House of Representatives voted 212 – 195 on Tuesday to pass H.R. 6192, the Hands Off Our Home Appliances Act, which would make it harder to improve appliance energy efficiency standards and would authorize the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to revoke existing energy standards. Among other things, H.R. 6192 prohibits efficiency standards that increase upfront appliance costs, even if those initial costs are recovered and turned into substantial utility bill savings.

Congress gave the DOE authority to establish energy efficiency standards in the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975. Since then, DOE has set efficiency standards for dozens of appliance categories. The law requires that any standards it sets must be cost-effective and technologically feasible. 

Typical U.S. households spend about $500 less each year on utility bills because of existing efficiency standards for a range of products. A recent report from CLASP found that by reducing air pollution, efficiency standards are already averting 1,900 to 4,400 deaths in the United States every year. 

Last week, the DOE announced new standards that require the most common-sized electric water heaters to become more efficient using heat pump technology. The new standards are expected to save consumers $124 billion and avert 332 million metric tons of global warming pollution.

Last week, U.S. PIRG and Environment America sent a letter to Congress urging them to oppose H.R. 6192 and five other anti-energy efficiency bills. 

Abe Scarr, Energy and Utilities Program Director at U.S. PIRG, issued the following statement:

“Americans of all stripes overwhelmingly support energy efficiency and conservation measures that cut energy waste, save consumers money, and promote public health. If we saved energy rather than endlessly producing more of it from dirty inefficient sources, we could be richer, healthier and have more free time.

“Rather than promoting energy waste, higher utility bills, and increased air pollution, Congress should recommit to the cheapest, cleanest energy source: the energy the consumer never uses.”

Lisa Frank, executive director of Environment America’s Washington Legislative Office, issued the following statement:

“Supporting efficiency and conservation should be a bipartisan issue. After all, energy efficiency standards were first signed into law by a Republican president. It’s a shame some members of Congress want to waste their time on increasing energy waste and pollution instead of working towards a cleaner, greener future.”