Bush's Climate Solution — Turn Up the A.C.!
Frustrating environmentalists, the Bush administration on Friday rolled back a rule approved by former President Clinton that would have required new central air conditioners to be 30 percent more efficient than the current standard. Instead, the administration (for once) made no mention of an impending energy "crisis" and said it would opt for what the majority of the air-conditioning industry preferred — a 20 percent increase in efficiency. The higher standard would have cost consumers about $123 more per air conditioner than the 20 percent standard; central air conditioners cost from $2,000 to $4,000, and the extra $123 would have been made up through energy savings in about 15 months. But the Energy Department said the higher standard would have priced low-income consumers out of the market. David Nemtzow, president of the Alliance to Save Energy, responded: "Guess what, poor people don’t buy central air conditioners, they tend to live in rentals." He said the administration’s decision would cost consumers an additional $700 million in annual electricity bills.