The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has proposed new rules that would impose energy efficiency standards on ceiling fans, following similar restrictions unveiled against other household appliances like gas stoves and portable gas generators.
The DOE rule, proposed in June, would require ceiling fans to become more energy efficient. The agency estimates that consumers using a standard fan could save up to $39.84 over the lifespan of the appliance with the new measures. A ceiling fan typically lasts for around six to 10 years. Around 85 million American households are estimated to use at least one ceiling fan, with a quarter using four or more.
Ceiling fans have always been considered a cheap and easy alternative to air conditioners. Nonetheless, the DOE seems adamant in its pursuit of helping Americans save around $4 per year with its new guidelines.
The DOE’s ban on gas stoves also projects meager savings for consumers, a figure that was recently updated to an even lower amount.
“DOE’s original proposal was to save consumers 13 cents per month in utility costs over the life of gas cooking products. The revised data reduces consumer savings to just 9 cents per month,” the industry group Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) said about the changes in an Aug. 3 press release.
At 9 cents a month, the projected savings will come to just $1.08 per year. Over a decade, that amounts to $10.80 in savings.
With regard to ceiling fan regulations, the DOE calculates that manufacturers may have to shell out $86.6 million per year in “increased equipment costs.”
In an Aug. 24 letter (pdf) to DOE Secretary Jennifer M. Granholm, Republicans from the House Committee on Small Business criticized the proposal, highlighting the harms it would have on small businesses in the ceiling fan industry.
“This rule would require numerous small business fan manufacturers to redesign their products and may put between 10 and 30 percent of small business ceiling fan manufacturers out of business,” the letter said.
“It appears that the Department of Energy (DOE) may not have properly considered small entities during this rulemaking process. It is important for agencies to examine small businesses’ interests—which make up 99.9 percent of all businesses in the United States—when passing any new rule.”
The committee asked the DOE for more information on the issue, including whether the agency believes certain small manufacturers “will go out of business” as a result of the proposed rule and whether it expects some manufacturers to abandon a few of their product lines to comply with the rules.
The committee gave the DOE time until Aug. 30 to reply to their request.
Ban Affects Consumer Choice
A DOE spokesperson justified the newly suggested ceiling fan regulations, pointing out that “these proposed standards, which are required by Congress, wouldn’t take effect until 2028,” according to a statement to Fox News.
The rules would “give Americans more energy efficient options to choose from, and would save hardworking taxpayers up to $369 million per year, while substantially reducing harmful air pollution—a crucial fact that some have conveniently failed to mention.”
However, Rep. Stephanie Bice (R-Okla.) has raised concerns about how the new measures would affect “consumer choice” and appliance affordability.”
“We are currently in a period of hot summer weather but also a time of high inflation. It is unconscionable that your department would seek to limit the options of the American people to stay cool in their own homes at a time like this,” she wrote in an Aug. 25 letter (pdf) to Ms. Granholm.
“As I write this letter, the current temperature here in Oklahoma City is 103 degrees Fahrenheit. Access to affordable cooling options during these summer months is a serious matter. I strongly oppose this proposed rule and urge you to withdraw it entirely.”
Ms. Bice also criticized the Energy Department’s other proposed rules to regulate appliances like water heaters and gas stoves as a “significant overreach of the federal government.”
Such “heavy-handed regulations” would drive up prices, limit consumer choice, and impose burdens on many small businesses, she added.
The ceiling fan regulations come as part of the Biden administration’s pro-climate policy push. On Jan. 20, 2021, President Biden signed an executive order requiring the DOE to create an “energy conservation program for appliance standards.”
A month later, the agency listed over a dozen energy-efficiency rules related to appliances like lamps, cooking products, and water heaters that it would review.
“First, they went after your car. Then, they targeted your gas stoves. Now, they are coming for your ceiling fans. America will continue to reject the Biden Climate Police’s authoritarianism,” Rep. Bill Cline (R-Va.) said in an Aug. 25 post on X.
Biden’s Crackdown On Appliances
In February, the DOE proposed rules to set new efficiency and conservation standards for home appliances, including gas stoves.
The proposed rule targeting gas stoves would affect half of all new models of such stoves sold in the United States while making most of the existing ones noncompliant, Republicans on the committee stated.
In March, Republican members of Congress introduced the “Save Our Gas Stoves Act” that aims to preemptively block any proposed rules by the Biden administration to ban or heavily restrict gas ovens sold in the country.
The bill was passed by the House on June 14.
In July, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) proposed a policy that would remove nearly all existing portable gas generators from the market.
According to the proposal, smaller gas generators would have to cut carbon monoxide emissions by 50 percent, and larger generators would have to cut emissions by up to 95 percent. Nearly all models currently available are expected to not be in compliance with the new standard.
Once the proposed rules come into effect, manufacturers would have to comply with them in just six months, a process that usually takes several years. The rules would also ban manufacturers from stockpiling noncompliant generators before the new standards are enacted.
The Biden administration has already implemented a ban on incandescent light bulbs, which came into effect on Aug. 1.
Under the rule, manufacturers and retailers are prohibited from selling incandescent and similar halogen light bulbs. Instead, they must sell LED bulbs. Violators can face substantial federal penalties.