“We’re the government, and we’re here to help.” Unless things change, it seems the U.S. Federal Government will soon have plenty of “help” to offer
homeowners. Officials in the Department of Energy plan to issue new
regulations on virtually everything around the house that uses energy.
If history is any indicator, then in some cases you can plan on this initia-
tive raising the cost of appliances, such as new “greener” refrigerators
and air conditioners, more than you’ll earn back in energy savings.
We should have energy efficiency as a personal goal, but not as a
compulsory government edict when it financially burdens the average
citizen. Consumers can make smart decisions without the government
getting involved in personal choices. Citizens living on a fixed budget
may have a hard time coughing up the cash for today’s entry level
appliances, much less the government’s soon-to-be mandated state-
of-the-art models, especially in these days of economic hardship.
The very nature of saving energy should sell itself, if not for the sake
of environmental sensitivity then for the sake of lower utility bills.
However, if the cost-saving benefit of an energy-efficient appliance
is negated by such a high up-front price, then the government is just
enforcing an environmental agenda with the force of a whip rather
than the enticement of a carrot.
The timing stinks for this kind of forced regulation. Maybe our lawmakers haven’t heard: People are out of work. In many cases, mortgage
payments and grocery lists are necessarily taking precedence over
environmental concerns. These days a lot of families are making sacrifices regarding where to allocate their money, and they are much more
aware of their immediate needs than the Washington bureaucrats.
Furthermore, initial consumer reports cite that sometimes the new
technologies aren’t as efficient as advertised, based on lax government qualification standards. On top of that, some products do work
as advertised, but consumers prefer the old standard. Take the example of the new low-flow shower heads that use a maximum of 2. 5
gallons per minute. Efficient? Sure. Do they perform well? Suffice it
to say, that’s a matter of opinion.
Compounding these issues is the simple American adherence to
freedom of choice. Some of us simply don’t like to be told what to
do, how to live or what we have to purchase.
Energy efficiency is a good thing … a great thing, a noble goal.
For some lifestyles these new appliances may make perfect sense.
But there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for every family and every
budget, and I think American consumers should have a choice when
it comes to furnishing their home rather than be limited to a short
list of approved high-end products sanctified by politicians who seem
absurdly detached from the plight of the average Joe.
Not that anyone in Washington gives a rip
what I think, but my suggestion to them would
be to focus with laser precision on policies
that help the private sector salvage the economy
before running rampant with more government
overreach. Who knows, maybe if the average
homeowner has more money in the bank, they
might feel inspired to invest in one of these
new energy-efficient appliances by choice
rather than by decree.
Mary Ann Curcuru
Trent R. Boozer
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