Media Release

New Clothes Washer and Dishwasher Standards to Save You Loads of Money

Release Date: Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Most Efficient Appliances Also Best at Cleaning

Efficiency standards released May 16, 2012 by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) will slash the amount of energy and water it takes to do your dishes and your laundry – and potentially save you hundreds of dollars. That means lower utility bills for you and environmental benefits for us all – without sacrificing the cleaning performance you count on – according to a coalition of consumer, energy and environmental groups including the Alliance to Save Energy.

The new dishwasher standards take effect starting next year, and the new clothes washer standards take effect starting in 2015. These standards will deliver:

  • Clothes washers that use up to 35% less energy and water, saving you up to $600 over current clothes washers; and
  • Dishwashers that use about 14% less energy and 23% percent less water, saving you about $100 over current dishwashers.

These savings – which you get through lower utility bills – mean a two-year payback period for the slightly higher upfront cost of the new appliances.

Common Ground for Manufacturers, Consumers, Environmental Organizations

“These updated  standards show that energy efficiency advocates can find common ground with manufacturers and with consumer and environmental organizations on making leading-edge technology the ‘new normal’ to benefit every consumer in the country,” noted Alliance President Kateri Callahan. “By acting on the consensus recommendation of these diverse organizations, Secretary Chu and the entire team at DOE have delivered big benefits for consumers and the environment.”

“Consumers and the environment both come up big winners with these new national standards,” said Steven Nadel, Executive Director of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). “These common-sense standards will save loads of energy, water and money.”

The new standards are based on a joint recommendation developed by clothes washer manufacturers, consumer groups, energy and water efficiency advocates, and environmental organizations. The groups designed their recommendations both to be highly cost-effective for buyers and to preserve consumer choices (such as that between top- and front-loading clothes washers).

What You Get From Energy-Efficient Appliance Standards

Saving Hundreds of Dollars

Consumers using new clothes washers can expect to save between $400 and $600 in lower energy and water bills over the lives of appliances that meet the new standards compared to today’s basic models, according to an analysis by ACEEE and the Appliance Standards Awareness Project (ASAP). Buyers of new dishwashers will save about $100.

2-Year Payback

Lower utility bills will offset additional upfront costs within about two years for both products. Taking into account those increased upfront costs, DOE estimates that total net dollar savings for U.S. consumers over 30 years will exceed $31 billion.

Top-Quality Performance

Based on the ratings published by Consumer Reports magazine, products sold today that are compliant with the new standards are among the best on the market. As a result, consumers will benefit from these substantial savings without giving up any cleaning performance.

“These efficiency improvements for clothes washers and dishwashers will save consumers money and provide consumers with more efficient options that are still affordable and high-performing,” said Consumers Union Policy Counsel Shannon Baker-Branstetter.

All of Consumer Reports’ highest-rated top- and front-loading models comply with the new standards, and most top-rated dishwashers meet the new standards.  These products all get high marks for washing performance. Currently available products that meet the new standards include highly featured models and more basic, low-price models.

Energy-Efficient Appliance Standards: Then & Now

President Ronald Reagan signed the original appliance efficiency standards into law in 1987. Today’s update marks the fourth time national standards for clothes washers have been improved and the third improvement for dishwashers. As a result, energy use to complete a load of laundry has declined by 65% since the 1980s.

Water savings have grown with the most recent standards: A new top-loading clothes washer will use about 20 gallons of water to clean a load of laundry compared to 40 gallons used by some new washers as recently as two years ago. Clothes washer water use accounts for about 20% of household indoor water use, and the new standards will halve the amount of water used by the typical household to wash clothes.

“Clothes washers will save households as much as 10,000 gallons – the equivalent of taking 250 baths – every year under these new standards,” said Natural Resources Defense Council Senior Policy Analyst Ed Osann. “That’s good news for consumers, our environment and our economy – and especially for anybody with a house full of kids.”

Efficient clothes washers and dishwashers use better design and components such as motors and pumps to save on energy and water. According to ACEEE and ASAP, the annual savings from the new standards by 2025 will add up to about:

  • 8 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity (equivalent to the annual electricity consumption of about 700,000 U.S. homes);
  • 280 million therms of natural gas (enough to heat a half-million U.S. homes); and
  • 175 billion gallons of water (enough to meet the daily water needs of about three million Americans).

The standards will reduce annual carbon dioxide emissions by about 6.2 million metric tons, which is equivalent to the annual emissions of 1.3 million typical passenger vehicles.

Altogether, 55 categories of consumer and commercial products are covered by national efficiency standards. According to a report published by ASAP and ACEEE in March 2012, the cumulative combined net savings of these existing standards from their inception through 2035 exceed $1.1 trillion and roughly 200 quadrillion Btu of energy – enough to meet the needs of the entire U.S. economy for two years. The new standards announced today add to these savings.

ASAP Media Contacts

More on Appliance Standards

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The Alliance to Save Energy is a coalition of prominent business, government, environmental and consumer leaders who promote the efficient and clean use of energy worldwide to benefit consumers, the environment, the economy and national security.

The Appliance Standards Awareness Project is dedicated to increasing awareness of and support for cost-effective appliance and equipment efficiency standards. Founded in 1999, ASAP is led by a steering committee that includes representatives from energy efficiency organizations, the environmental community, consumer groups, utilities, and state government. 

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy acts as a catalyst to advance energy efficiency policies, programs, technologies, investments, and behaviors. For information about ACEEE and its programs, publications, and conferences, visit www.aceee.org.

Consumers Union is the public policy and advocacy division of Consumer Reports.  Consumer Reports is the world’s largest independent product-testing organization and has over 8 million subscribers.  

The Natural Resources Defense Council is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 1.3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment.