Updating Appliance Standards will Save Energy and Money
The easiest way to reduce utility bills is to use less energy, but that doesn’t mean we need to return to life by candlelight. Energy-efficient appliances work just as well — and often better—than models that consume more power, and the only difference consumers will notice is lower utility payments.
New Jersey can join a growing list of states that are upgrading energy efficiency standards for household and commercial appliances. Assembly Bill 5160, introduced by Assemblyman Wayne P. DeAngelo, and Senate Bill 3244, introduced by Sen. Bob Smith, update standards for 17 residential and industrial products ranging from lighting equipment to commercial fryers and faucets. If passed, this will be the first update to New Jersey’s appliance energy efficiency standards in 15 years.
Research by the national energy efficiency organization Appliance Standards Awareness Project, shows that in just two years after adopting updated appliance standards, New Jersey residents, businesses and local and state governments will save over $130 million annually. Those savings can be reinvested in the state economy and create jobs. Savings would grow to nearly $400 million annually by 2035. And the benefits will reach all residents, including lower-income households that struggle with utility bills.
That’s why some call updating appliance energy standards “the best climate policy you’ve never heard of.”
Upfront costs for most of the appliances in the bill are no higher than less-efficient options, so savings are immediate. And most of the remaining products will offset their increased purchase price with utility savings in about one year. But the benefits are not just financial.
More widespread use of energy-efficient appliances will save an amount of energy equivalent to the electricity consumption of 32,000 New Jersey households, natural gas consumption of 21,000 households and water consumption of 72,000 households — as well as emissions from 38,000 cars in one year. It means reduced greenhouse gas emissions to help mitigate the harmful impacts of climate change, and to address environmental and health issues associated with pollution.
Appliance-based energy efficiency is especially appealing because it does not force people to change their habits, like turning down the heat in winter or setting the thermostat higher in summer. Energy efficiency reduces energy consumption by using less energy to attain the same amount of useful output. Lightbulbs are a great example. An energy-efficient 12-watt LED bulb uses 75-80 percent less energy than a 60-watt traditional bulb to provide the same amount of light. The added efficiency is what brings down utility bills.
Under this legislation, replacing appliances would not be mandatory. When our shower heads or air purifiers fail, we would replace them with models that meet the new energy efficiency standards — because that is what stores will be selling. Experience shows that, because companies will compete to make and sell the most energy-efficient products, appliance selection will remain broad for consumers.
Remember, too, that without an update to energy standards, New Jersey residents will not only lose financially and environmentally, but also risk having our markets flooded with outdated, inefficient appliances that cannot be sold in other states.
Passage of the legislation would make New Jersey an energy-efficiency leader that will set a model for other states and the federal government. It puts into action a common-sense, low-cost and high-impact effort to save money and improve our environment, and it has broad support, from consumers and businesses to conservation groups and low-income communities. We encourage New Jersey residents to reach out to their legislators and express support for these measures. If passed, we will all enjoy the benefits.