U.S. DOE will phase in energy-efficiency standards for household appliances

After years of thumb-twiddling, the U.S. Department of Energy will phase in more stringent energy-efficiency requirements for 22 household appliances and other pieces of equipment over the next five years. Congress requires ramped-up efficiency standards according to periodic deadlines; this update is only a dozen or so years late, so you’d think critics would cut the DOE some slack. But steely-eyed green groups, joined by 15 states and New York City, sued over the delay last year, and now a settlement is forcing the department to get off its arse. Gizmos with better energy efficiency — including dishwashers, fluorescent lamps, ovens, and the like — could stave off the construction of dozens of new power plants and save enough juice to meet the needs of 12 million homes once fully in place. Under the settlement, the department must set standards at the maximum technologically feasible and cost-effective level possible. What a bright idea.