This week, the Department of Energy finalized regulations to increase energy efficiency for central air conditioners and heat pumps. The regulations apply to products manufactured or imported into the United States beginning in 2023. DOE estimates that, over the following 30 years, the regulations will reduce GHG emissions by 188.3 million metric tons, and will also result in similarly substantial reductions in emissions of conventional pollutants.
Given the timing, I’ve already been asked whether these regulations won’t just be rolled back by the new administration. I’m assuming not. The regulations were the product of a negotiated rulemaking and they are supported by the manufacturers. Was there some implicit coercion to bring the manufacturers to the table? I don’t know, though it’s certainly possible. Might some manufacturers have second thoughts? I suppose so. Nonetheless, given the amount of time and effort put into these regulations, I still think that they’ll stick.
All of which raises two points. First, it’s an important reminder that not all environmental regulations are promulgated by DEP and the best way to reduce emissions is to reduce electricity demand.
The second is to wonder about the answer to two related questions. How did this happen and why doesn’t it happen more often?