Court: DOE Reconsider Calif. Washing Machine Standards

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco recently overturned the Department of Energy's (DOE's) 2006 denial of a California Energy Commission waiver request that would have required more efficient washing machines in California. The court ordered DOE to reconsider its action.

"This is a victory for all Californians. Water is a major and perpetual issue for California - every drop counts," said Karen Douglas, California Energy Commission chair. "Clothes washers that use less according to these standards will eventually save enough to supply a city the size of San Diego every year," she commented.

Filed in the court in April 2007, the Energy Commission's suit argued that the state's washing machine standards would save substantial amounts of electricity, natural gas and water. The standards will also enhance efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions. The Energy Commission's petition to DOE and its lawsuit were supported by California's local water and energy utilities.

Under state legislation passed in 2002, the Energy Commission established standards to ensure washing machines sold in California after 2007 use no more than 8.5 gallons of water per cubic foot of washing machine capacity, later decreased to six gallons by 2010.

Water efficient washing machines will use on average only 21.1 gallons per wash, or 8,271 gallons a year - compared to typical models that used an average of 39.2 gallons per wash or 15,366 gallons a year for a normal household three years ago.

While the consumer on average will pay $130 more for a washing machine, savings during the life of the machine will average $242 in lower energy costs and water bills.

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