News Analysis

Obama Pushes Appliance Efficiency

In February 2009, amid a wave of executive actions establishing his administration’s priorities, President Barack Obama ordered the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to raise the federal standards for energy efficiency in a variety of appliance categories.

The move challenges DOE’s decades of failure to comply with laws dating to the Energy Policy and Conservation act of 1975 mandating periodic deadlines for updating appliance efficiency standards. Following a 2005 lawsuit for noncompliance brought against the agency by 14 states on behalf of consumers, DOE issued a report acknowledging that the standard-setting process needed to be “reformed.” According to the presidential memorandum, however, the agency is still lagging behind deadlines for 15 of 22 appliance categories that it committed to updating in a 2006 consent agreement.

Compliance would mean that DOE would meet the next set of established deadlines coming up in August 2009, which pertain to ovens, lamps, microwaves, vending machines, dishwashers, commercial boilers, and air-conditioning units. The agency will then be expected to meet all subsequent deadlines on or ahead of schedule, prioritizing the appliance categories that would achieve the greatest energy savings for consumers.

Published February 26, 2009

Ward, A. (2009, February 26). Obama Pushes Appliance Efficiency. Retrieved from