Last week, NEFI attended two important hearings in the U.S. House of Representatives on home energy and consumer choice. These hearings were held as the Biden Administration is advancing numerous policies through several agencies that aim to restrict access to non-electric home appliances, including furnaces and boilers.
On Wednesday, September 13, the House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee for Energy, Climate, & Grid Security held a hearing on "Keeping the Lights On: Enhancing Reliability and Efficiency to Power American Homes." The subcommittee was considering a series of draft bills designed to enhance consumer choice with respect to home appliances and bolster grid security and reliability. The Biden Administration and some state and local governments are advancing numerous proposals to restrict consumer choice in home appliances and heating fuels, including the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) aggressive new efficiency standards for gas stoves, water heaters, boilers, and other non-electric appliances; and the EPA's plans to eliminate furnaces and boilers from ENERGY STAR®. Among the legislation considered at the hearing is the "DOE Appliance and Equipment Standards Reform and Consumer Protection Act," introduced by Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ-08). The bill would modernize appliance efficiency standards laws and prohibit the DOE from prescribing new or amended energy efficiency standards for a product that is not technologically feasible or economically justified.
NEFI submitted a letter of support for the new legislation (read it here) and asked that it be included in the hearing record. NEFI's letter states, in part: "The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) seeks to make non-electric home appliances less competitive or no longer viable through stringent new efficiency rules on products including liquid-, gas-, and biofuel-fired (or "fuel-fired") water heaters, furnaces, and boilers. Lacking the authority to ban these appliances outright, it appears the agency is attempting to prevent consumer access by making them prohibitively expensive. Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced plans to eliminate furnaces and boilers, central air conditioners, and gas clothes dryers from the ENERGY STAR® program by the end of 2024."
NEFI's letter concluded, "Modern, high-efficiency heating systems running on renewable fuels represent an equitable, pragmatic path to dramatic emissions reductions while protecting consumers and lowering their energy costs. These systems deserve recognition within appliance efficiency regulatory policies and should continue to have access to ENERGY STAR performance labels."
On Thursday, September 14, the Subcommittee on Health Care and Financial Services held "The Inflation Reduction Act: A Year in Review." NEFI has been working closely with Congressman Nicholas Langworthy (R-NY-23) and others on the subcommittee in response to appliance efficiency issues. This includes a guidance document published by the DOE last month that pushes states to aggressively deploy new electrification and efficiency rebates under the federal Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) in a way that cuts out liquid heating fuels and propane with its stated goal of ensuring heat pumps are the only choice available to consumers. During the hearing, Rep. Langworthy notes that energy efficient rebates in the IRA are not "technology neutral" as the bill's supporters often tout, and not beneficial to all consumers, especially working families. He called out the DOE for trying to prevent consumers from upgrading their liquid fuel or propane heating system, even if the upgrade is recommended by their HVAC technician. You can view the clip of Rep. Langworthy's question here, or the full hearing here (Jump to 52:08 for this exchange).
NEFI continues to engage in these issues on your behalf in Washington D.C. Please support these efforts by donating to our Advocacy Fund and learn more about NEFI's Greener Heating Fuels PAC and how we are supporting candidates for federal office who recognize the importance of our industry and its efforts to enhance U.S. energy security and reduce emissions.