NRDC Helps Negotiate New Federal Standards for Clothes Washer Energy Efficiency

Consumers Will Save Money and Cut Pollution at the Same Time

WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 23, 2000) - NRDC hails new standards for clothes-washer efficiency announced today by Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson. The standards will save consumers money -- around $75 a year for many -- and reduce pollution at the same time.

The agreement negotiated between washing machine manufacturers and a coalition of government, utility and environmental group representatives, calls for the Department of Energy to adopt agreed-upon energy-efficiency standards for washing machines and for governments and manufacturers to support voluntary programs to promote energy-efficient appliances.

"New technologies for energy efficiency can reduce pollution, save money and promote economic growth," says David B. Goldstein, the Natural Resource Defense Council's Energy Program director and a chief negotiator. Although washers do not consume a lot of energy directly, they use hot water that can cost as much as $125 per year, says Goldstein. More efficient washers use less hot water, and less water overall, which saves money, water and energy. Many consumers will save money on detergent due to the lower quantities of water used; and will also save on the energy they use for dryers, because many efficient washers spin-dry clothes more effectively than conventional machines.

The standards will go into effect in 2004 and become more stringent in 2007, when energy use will be cut by about half. "But consumers don't have to wait to make their washers greener and cheaper," says Goldstein. "Products that meet the 2007 standard already are available, and can be identified by the EnergyStar label." (See for more information.)

"This agreement demonstrates in practical terms how policies that cut global-warming pollution need not harm the economy, as pessimists have argued," says Dan Lashof, an NRDC senior scientist. "With more efficient washers, the nation can save $20 billion while cutting greenhouse pollution by 5 million tons of carbon per year."

The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, non-profit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has more than 400,000 members nationwide, served from offices in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and San Francisco.