|WSJ Opinion -- Make Dishwashers That Clean Again .............................................|
Review & Outlook
Oct. 13, 2019
Make Dishwashers That Clean Again
The Energy Department wants to give consumers an appliance choice.
By The Editorial Board
The political campaign to use less fossil-fuel energy has real-world consequences, and one is that modern appliances don’t work like they used to. The Trump Energy Department wants to let manufacturers make better dishwashers, and consumers are welcoming the idea. Manufacturers, not so much.
The dirty little non-secret for years has been that modern dishwashers don’t clean dishes well. The culprit is federal efficiency standards, which have been tightened to use less energy. Dishwashers that once took an hour from wash to dry now average two hours and 20 minutes, and even then they don’t always do the job. A GE survey of 11,000 dishwasher owners reports that having to wait for hours for dishes to be done is a major consumer annoyance.
In March 2018 the folks at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a Washington think tank, began a petition drive to do something about it. The Energy Department published the petition in the Federal Register with a request for comments.
“When DOE published the CEI petition last year, we received an overwhelmingly positive response from consumers who are tired of waiting for their dishes to dry or pre-washing their dishes by hand,” says Daniel Simmons, assistant secretary for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. The reaction was so positive that Energy wrote a draft rule to allow a new class of dishwashers featuring a cycle time of an hour or less.
Judging from the more than 2,700 comments already received, a great many Americans are not happy with what’s happened to their dishwashers. “I had no idea that energy regulations were affecting my dishwasher. Now that I know I am absolutely furious” says one. Another writes that “when you have to re wash your dishes because they stink does not save water.” Still another pleads: “For the love of all that is holy, help us make dishwashers work right again.”
Opponents say many of today’s dishwashers include an option for a one-hour cycle. Others cite the impact on the environment if dishwashers are allowed to use more energy and water. Some note that the industry itself opposes the new rule.
But the existing one-hour cycle works only with dishes that are lightly soiled. And for all the worries about environmental impact, there’s no consideration for the double washing that goes on because dishwashers are so lousy. As for industry objections, the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers argues that dishwasher manufacturers have made significant investments to meet the current standards -- and that relaxing these standards would make these stranded investments.
The proposed new rule would not force anyone to change current dishwasher models. If the machines are as good as the industry and environmentalists claim, consumers will stick with them. If not, why not give the American people the chance to buy dishwashers that actually clean dishes? The public comment period on the draft rule remains open until October 16.
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