Biden’s Department of Energy (DOE) released tighter rules for home appliances on Friday afternoon as millions of people across the country prepared to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. The standards, which form part of the administration’s climate change agenda, would cut water use by more than one-third and cut energy use by 27 percent for dishwashers sold in the United States, according to DOE.  The changes apply to new models on sale once the new rules officially come into effect, which is expected to be in 2027. Manufacturers would be forced to limit dishwashers to using 3.2 gallons of water per cycle, far below the current federal limit of 5 gallons, and reduce their products’ energy consumption by nearly 30 percent. While most dishwashers on the market meet the Energy Star Standard of 3.5 gallons per cycle, they would still need to be redesigned to cut energy use. The result of the new rules will be higher upfront prices for the appliance, making it more difficult for lower income Americans to afford them. Since paper plates and plastic utensils are not eligible for government food assistance programs, the proposed standard will hit the poor especially hard.

According to DOE, the newly proposed energy efficiency standards will save Americans $652 million in utility bills because besides reducing water usage, manufacturers would be required to cut energy use in standard dishwashers from 307-kilowatt hours annually to 223 yearly kilowatt hours. According to department officials, consumers would save $17 annually on energy and water costs for a standard-size dishwasher and it would make up for the likely higher cost of the appliance in 2.4 years. For a compact dishwasher, energy use would need to be cut from 222 kilowatt hours annually to 174 kilowatt hours and water use would be capped at 3.1 gallons per cycle, down from the current allowance of 3.5 gallons. Average per-unit savings over its life would be $30.

The total cost of conversion to industry required to comply with the proposed standards would be approximately $125.6 million. Manufacturers have warned reducing water and power in dishwashers has become increasingly difficult without impacting performance, reducing how effectively they clean and dry dishes. Even under existing standards, Americans find modern dishwasher cycle times excessively long and performance worse than with previous standards.

A Whirlpool top-control, Energy Star model currently uses 270 kilowatts per hour annually, exceeding energy use under the proposed rule by more than 17 percent. A GE Adora Energy Star-rated stainless steel control top dishwasher exceeds both of the proposed standards, using 240-kilowatt hours a year and 3.5 gallons per cycle.


The DOE finalized current standards for dishwashers in 2012, and they took effect in 2013. In 2016, the DOE determined more stringent standards for dishwashers were not economically justifiable. However, the Biden administration says “there are models available today that can meet improved energy and water standards, while providing the cleaning performance that consumers expect from their dishwashers.”

Biden’s DOE has already pushed through stricter environmental standards on washing machines and refrigerators that have been described as ‘overregulation on steroids.’ On January 20, 2021, Biden signed an executive order telling DOE officials to make ‘major revisions’ to current appliance regulation standards. A month later, the agency listed more than a dozen energy efficiency rules, impacting appliances like water heaters, cooking products and lamps that it would review. At the end of last year, the White House released a statement boasting that it had taken action against 110 household appliances to supposedly help reduce emissions.

DOE is seeking to ramp up restrictions around all kinds of appliances, including refrigerators, washing machines, drying machines and more. In February, DOE proposed new energy standards for refrigerators and clothes washers. DOE also revised the standards for stoves, eliminating at least half the gas stoves on the market.

Manufacturers view the reductions in water and energy in the dishwasher proposals as less drastic than the new efficiency rules the department is considering for washers, dryers and refrigerators. Some manufacturers have warned the new standards impacting the three appliances will lead to reduced performance and much higher prices and possibly forcing production outside of the United States, where labor is cheaper. GE has already sold its appliance unit to a company in China, Haier Ltd.

The department will hold an online hearing on the proposed rules on June 8 and will begin accepting public comments online and in writing.


Biden’s DOE is proposing standards to make appliances more energy efficient at the cost of their performance, reducing the effectiveness of the product and costing Americans more in upfront costs that may mean lower income families will have to do without the convenience of the appliance. It could also mean that manufacturers may be forced to outsource production jobs overseas to reduce labor costs.  Perhaps Biden would prefer Americans to use the old-fashioned method of dishwater and towel to wash and dry dishes, which involves little electrical energy—just the amount to heat some water.

Stressed families, already pressed for time and struggling to pay bills, may find the green transition frustrating given the continuing string of performance-robbing regulatory changes the Biden Administration is forcing upon them for which they will be paying upfront and often operational costs.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email