We can cut utility bills and help the planet by setting appliance efficiency standards in Pennsylvania

Written by Jennifer O’Mara, Wendi Thomas and Rachel Vresilovic

As we entered the colder winter months, energy costs across Pennsylvania increased for most customers, including some who saw a 50% hike.

This is due to the fact that eight Pennsylvanian utility companies, including PPL Electric Utilities, raised the cost of energy for residential and business customers. These increases ranged from around 6% to 50%, depending on where you live and your energy supplier.

However, there is a commonsense solution that can help utility customers reduce the pain of price hikes: promoting energy-efficiency policies to ensure Pennsylvania’s businesses and consumers have access to the most energy-efficient appliances on the market.

Not only does this help lower energy costs and save consumer dollars, but energy-efficient appliances also help us reduce pollution and protect the planet.

There are dozens of product types sold in Pennsylvania and the United States today that fall into this category. By setting appliance efficiency standards in Pennsylvania, we can get rid of the energy hogs and ensure that every time Pennsylvanians buy a new appliance that it uses energy as efficiently as possible.

While not the most glamorous of issues, appliance efficiency standards can make a big dent in our utility bill by helping us reduce energy burdens on Pennsylvanian households.

That is why we’ve brought together a group of bipartisan legislators to sponsor and introduce House Bill 1185 and Senate Bill 601, which would set minimum appliance efficiency standards for 16 different household and commercial appliances, from air purifiers to showerheads.

By implementing these regulations in Pennsylvania, we would cut air pollution in the state by 224,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide each year and help ensure that we’re doing our part to tackle climate change. At the same time, we would be reducing harmful emissions that trigger asthma and other respiratory ailments, which so many of our state’s residents endure.

These pollution reductions will not only help us but will also leave a healthier planet for future generations of Pennsylvanians.

And while we all want to do our part to protect the planet and tackle climate change, it’s even more exciting when we can do it and save money. It’s estimated that if the Pennsylvania General Assembly takes steps to pass our proposal into law, it would save the state’s residents and business $108 million in 2025 — and as much as $433 million annually by 2035.

The best part is there are simple and easy ways to reap those benefits. Energy-efficient appliances are already commonly bought and sold on the market, often at the same price as inefficient appliances. And that’s before you consider the costly energy gluttony of inefficient appliances that slowly and quietly suck money out of our pocketbooks and wallets over their lifetime.

What’s more, if Pennsylvania implements these bipartisan efficiency standards, it would be taking a nationwide leadership role, joining such states as Colorado, Vermont and Washington that recently passed standards similar to what we’re proposing for Pennsylvania.

As energy costs rose in Pennsylvania on Jan. 1 it has never been more important than ever to support HB 1185 and SB 601. By passing this important bill, the Pennsylvania Legislature would signal its support for lower energy bills and a healthier environment with cleaner air to breathe.

We have the technology to make sure our appliances are energy efficient. Let’s use it instead of putting a needless burden on Pennsylvanians’ natural resources, health and pocketbooks.

Originally published in The Morning Call on Jan. 4, 2022.