More Nonsense from the Energy Department

October 30, 2013

Have you ever gone to the kitchen in the middle of the night without turning on the lights, looked at your microwave's digital clock and said, "Man, that is bright. How much energy does that thing use anyway?" In reality, that clock uses hardly any energy at all - an average of 4.5 watts on the over-the-range models and less for the countertop ones. That minuscule consumption, though, is more than enough to spur an army of regulators - seemingly unimpeded by budgets or common sense - into action, says David Kreutzer, research fellow in energy economics and climate change at the Heritage Foundation, writing for the Washington Times.  

In June, the Energy Department issued a regulation titled "Energy Conservation Program: Energy Conservation Standards for Standby Mode and Off Mode for Microwave Ovens."

Yet another in a long list of rules to save you from your appliances, this one will help you out of that dime-a-week financial hole your clock is digging every hour of every day. At least, every hour when you aren't using the microwave, because this rule looks only at the microwave's energy consumption when you don't use it.

Let's examine those savings:

  • The big money is in the over-the-range category, where the new 2.2-watt standard will deliver life-cycle cost savings of $12.
  • Your guardian angels at the Energy Department determined that the average life span of a microwave oven is about 10 years, so you can now contemplate pocketing an additional $1.20 per year to spend on whatever you want - so long as it isn't something like a vacuum fluorescent display for your microwave.

The alternatives to vacuum fluorescent displays are liquid crystal displays, which must be backlit to be readable in dim light, and light-emitting diodes.  The department did note that half of the liquid crystal display models they tested failed completely after less than 10 days in the heat and humidity. However, they simply ignored that little hiccup.

In short, to save customers $1.20 per year, Department of Energy standards push manufacturers toward a technology that can render half of their customers' clocks useless within a week or so - a cost the department totally ignores.

Source: David Kreutzer, "The Dollars And Nonsense Of Energy Conservation,"  Washington Times, October 27, 2013.

 

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