NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


February 8, 2005

At least a dozen states are imposing or considering new energy-efficiency requirements that will help drive down monthly utility bills but will force many consumers to pay more for household electrical items, say observers.

The requirements demand lower power usage from energy-hungry items such as cell-phone power cords, furnaces and certain light bulbs.

  • The estimated extra cost of the energy-efficient versions ranges from 50 cents for a light bulb to $580 for a pool pump.
  • Most small items will cost at most a few extra dollars, but some floor lamps could cost $20 more, and ceiling fans up to $40 more.

Proponents argue that consumers will save money in the long run, because the savings on electricity and natural-gas bills far exceeds the increase in purchase price. But higher prices are sure to bother some.

For states, the benefits of stricter standards tend to outweigh the risks of annoying consumers, say observers:

  • California estimates that its new rules will prevent having to build three large power plants in the next 10 years.
  • Maryland lawmakers overrode Gov. Robert Erlich's veto last year of a law to strengthen energy standards for nine products, including floor lamps and ceiling fans; the law will save $621 million, says the non-profit Northeast Energy Efficiency Standards Project.
  • Connecticut adopted tighter energy-use limits on several items last May. By reducing demand for power, the limits will reduce the demand on the state's power lines.

Other states are close to taking action. Last week, New Jersey's legislature approved new energy standards, which the governor is expected to sign. Bills to make products more efficient have been introduced this year in four states, and efficiency advocates expect legislation to be introduced in four more this year.

Source: Traci Watson, "States Act to Save Energy, Ease Bills," USA Today, February 2, 2005.

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