New Microwave Regs Likened to ‘Taking 12 Million New Cars Off the Road’

Fred Lucas | June 5, 2013 | 4:31pm EDT
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Microwave (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

( – Microwave ovens are the newest federal target – after the government already weighed in on light bulbs, toilets, washing machines and other everyday items for Americans – in a crusade against carbon emissions.

“That’s why we are proud to announce today that the Department of Energy has finalized new energy efficiency standards for microwaves, which will save consumers billions on their energy bills over the coming decades and prevent 38 million metric tons of carbon emissions – the equivalent of taking 12 million new cars off the road for one year,” said Heather Zichal, deputy assistant to the president for energy and climate change, on the White House blog.

The administration asserts that the higher energy efficiency standards for microwaves will reduce costs and pollution.

Zichal praised the importance of regulating household appliances.

“Household appliances – like refrigerators, washing machines, and televisions – are commonplace in our everyday lives, yet we rarely stop to think: how much energy are they using and at what cost,” she said in the White House blog post. “Consider this: the average household in the United States spends more than $2,000 each year on energy bills, with appliances accounting for a significant percentage of that total.”

The White House and Energy Department announced that beginning in 2016, new energy efficiency standards for microwaves will be imposed and promised it would lead to consumer savings, but federal regulations have a poor track record of producing consumer deals, said Sam Kazman, general counsel for the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

“If this goes the same way as government efficiency standards for washing machines, consumers can expect more expensive microwaves,” Kazman told “The basic question we should be asking about these mandates is if they are as great and cost effective as the government tells us, why do we have to have laws imposed on us?”

The new standards are supposed to save consumers $3 billion on their energy bills through 2030, according to the Energy Department. The department doesn’t address the regulatory impact specifically on manufacturing and retail but says the standards will have a “net benefit” of $4.6 billion on the economy over the next three decades.

“Appliance efficiency standards represent a huge opportunity to help families save money by saving energy, while still delivering high quality appliances for consumers,” Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said in a statement. “In fact, the commonsense appliance standards adopted over the last four years will save Americans about $400 billion on their utility bills through 2030.”

The Energy Department press release further said, “The standards for microwave ovens will reduce energy consumption in standby mode by 75 percent in countertop microwave ovens and over-the-range microwave ovens without convection features, and by 51 percent for over-the-range microwave ovens with convection, preventing 38 million metric tons of carbon pollution over the next three decades.”

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