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Efficiency standards for washing machines move forward

October 29, 2009 |  3:33 pm

Clean it up
California energy regulators have been given a green light to set new efficiency standards for washing machines.

A panel  of judges on the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco overturned the U.S. Department of Energy’s 2006 denial of a California request for a waiver to put the proposed energy-saving standards into place.

A state law passed in 2002 gave the California Energy Commission the authority to set limits on the amount of electric power and water used by domestic washing machines sold in California after 2007. The regulations were expected to limit usage to an average of 21.1 gallons of water per wash, compared to the current 39.2 gallons per wash.

“This is a victory for all Californians. Water is a major and perpetual issue for California – every drop counts,” said commission Chairwoman Karen Douglas. “Clothes washers that use less according to these standards will eventually save enough to supply a city the size of San Diego every year.

The proposed standards could increase the retail cost of a washing machine by an average of $130, the energy commission said. But, savings from water and power conservation would yield about $242 over the life of the machine.

-- Marc Lifsher

Photo: Washing machines on display at a Home Depot. Credit: Associated Press