A simple solution to curb DC’s energy waste may be around the corner

Making appliances more efficient could have a surprisingly large impact on energy waste, water use and greenhouse gas emissions

Brynn Furey

Rolling back appliance efficiency standards has been a full-time job for Trump’s Department of Energy. While in power, the agency has routinely sought to weaken federal standards, both lowering them for things like light bulbs, showerheads and dishwashers and failing to evaluate standards that are overdue for an upgrade. 

Although the out-going Trump administration has wasted four years attacking appliance efficiency standards, the federal government has not been the only one in Washington D.C. calling the shots. In November 2020, the D.C. City Council introduced a bill to cut energy waste on its own by setting new appliance efficiency standards in the District of Columbia and protecting them against any possible future federal rollbacks. 

Thinking Globally, Acting Locally 

D.C.’s Energy Efficiency Standards Amendment Act (Bill 23-204), sponsored by Councilmember Mary Cheh, would tighten appliance efficiency standards for 17 products, including everything from residential showerheads and air purifiers to commercial fryers and steam cookers. Thanks to Councilmembers Cheh, Charles Allen and Brooke Pinto, the bill passed out of committee and is currently being deliberated on the council floor. 

The last time that the District updated its appliance standards was in 2007, the same year that the iPhone debuted and Billboard’s Top 100 chart was led by hits like Rihanna’s “Umbrella” and “Hey There Delilah” by the Plain White T’s. If Washingtonians take advantage of the opportunity to upgrade appliance standards now, then by 2025, they would save enough energy to power 7,000 D.C. homes for a year. 

All of those energy savings would reap a whole suite of environmental, health and economic benefits. 

In fact, by 2025, this one policy would:

  • Slash annual carbon emissions equal to taking 5,400 cars off the road.

  • Save enough water to meet the annual needs of 15,000 D.C. families.

  • Generate $19 million in annuals savings for D.C. consumers and businesses.

And that’s just the beginning. Each consecutive year, the energy savings climb as more and more Washingtonians buy and use energy efficient appliances on a regular basis. 

What we’re left with is a healthier planet, cleaner air to breathe and lower utility bills for D.C. residents and businesses. And all of this efficient technology is already being sold on the market, so we just need to get rid of the least efficient products, the so-called energy hogs that are needlessly zapping our energy and water resources. 

If lawmakers enact these standards, D.C. will join a club of appliance standard leaders: California, Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, New York, Vermont and Washington have updated their standards in the last two years. Along the east coast, Massachusetts, Maine, New Jersey and Pennsylvania are considering implementing new standards as well. 

The time to act is now. While there is no major opposition to appliance efficiency standards in D.C., the public often overlooks this policy because it’s less flashy than other popular environmental legislation. We have to show our legislators that we support energy efficiency standards for appliances while we have the opportunity. If we don’t do this now, there is a risk that it might be put on the backburner again. 

Take Action:

There are positive signs that the D.C. Council will make the right decision on appliance efficiency standards, but nothing is certain. That’s where citizen action comes in.

Sign our petition here urging your member of the DC council to support Bill 23-204 to update appliance efficiency standards this legislative session. 

We have all the tools to eliminate energy waste in our homes and businesses. Now we need to show our elected officials that we want them to put these energy saving tools to work.


Brynn Furey

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