How Federal Energy Regulations Make Dishwashers Worse

“The increase in unused dishwashers is correlated with federal energy efficiency standards that have made newer models less effective. In the last 20 years, the U.S. Department of Energy has twice tightened those standards, which limit the amount of water and electricity that dishwashers use. Manufacturers have met those standards by building machines that recirculate less water over a longer wash cycle.

Data compiled by D.C.’s Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) show that average cycle times rose from just over an hour when the first standards were adopted in 1987 to nearly two-and-a-half hours as of 2018. In complaints collected by CEI, many consumers said the longer cycle times had led them to start handwashing dishes.

The regression in dishwasher use is a great lesson in unintended consequences. As Procter & Gamble points out in its “do it” campaign, handwashing uses far more water than machine washing. Environmental standards that discourage the use of machines undermine the original goals of those rules.”

“The Trump administration briefly liberalized dishwasher standards, but the Biden administration quickly reimposed the old rules. Millions of Americans will now spill needless gallons of water down the drain by cleaning their dishes in the sink while a machine that could have done the work for them sits sadly handicapped and idle.”

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