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Could your fridge and AC become cheaper to buy but more costly to run?

Why it matters to you

Energy and the environment has been a major point of contention under the new administration, and the appliances industry may be able to take advantage of that.

Your home appliances may be getting more intelligent, but they could become less efficient. That is, if the appliance industry successfully lobbies Congress to roll back energy efficiency standards that the industry deems “unrealistic and costly for air conditioners, refrigerators, and other equipment,” as Bloomberg reports. Should these manufacturers meet with sympathetic lawmakers, it could mean a paring back of Reagan-era laws that set minimum efficiency standards for various appliances, which means the possibility of more energy-guzzling, and thereby expensive, home goods.

“We thought they went too far in pushing the efficiency too high and not looking at the economic costs for the consumers,” Stephen Yurek, president of the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute, which represents various AC and heater manufacturers, told Bloomberg. “I think we are going to see a dial back. There is a different philosophy and that is very clear.”

Indeed, the current administration has dialed back its support of various environmentally friendly initiatives, setting the stage for a potential win for the industry. But environmentalists certainly hope that standards are kept in play, as even saving a little bit of power here and there really adds up when considering the sheer number of households in the U.S. and the number of electric appliances they use every day.

“An average American household spends about $500 less per year on utility bills because of the efficiency gains in our everyday appliances,” said Andrew deLaski, executive director of the Appliance Standards Awareness Project. “Rolling back standards or weakening the law to make it harder to improve standards in the future would lead to more energy waste and hurt consumers.”

However, should appliance manufacturers encourage simplifying energy laws instead of weakening them overall, analysts say they may be onto something. As Kevin Book, managing director of research firm ClearView Energy Partners noted, “It’s hard to imagine loosening an environmental statute at the federal level, but simplification is within the realm of reason.”