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A Phil Hall Op-Ed: If you have a gas stove or if you want to purchase that type of appliance, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has good news for you – its newly published energy-efficiency standards gave a thumbs up to 97% of the gas stoves now on the market.

With this news, the DOE is trying to turn off the heat (pardon the pun) on a percolating controversy over the claim that the Biden administration was eager to ban gas stoves. That controversy was traced to an interview given last year by Richard Trumka Jr., a member of the independent U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, who claimed gas stoves represent a health hazard. No member of the Biden team called for an outright ban on gas stoves, but somehow the story spun in that direction as critics of the White House in Congress and in the media ran with the story that the administration was seeking to ban these appliances.

The 97% figure is a major coup for the appliances and gas energy industries – initially, it was estimated that 50% of the gas stoves on the market would be impacted by the updated standards. It is also important to point out that the standards only apply to new stoves being sold and does not impact existing appliances.

However, some cities including Los Angeles and New York have their own restrictions on using natural gas for the appliances in newly built homes, but that’s independent of the DOE announcement. And perhaps the local roadblocks are deserving of greater attention.

Last summer, Alicia Huey, 2023 Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Home Builders and a custom home builder and developer from Birmingham, Alabama, testified before the U.S. House Financial Services Committee Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance on the problems she perceived in preventing builders from including gas appliances in new properties.

“As home builders, we believe our customers have a right to choose the appliances and energy sources used in their homes,” she said. “Over 187 million Americans currently use natural gas appliances, saving them an average of $1,068 each year. Gas stoves are used in nearly 40 million homes nationwide and have proven to be a safe, efficient and affordable appliance choice for families for well over a century. The current push to regulate gas stoves will result in negligible health, safety and energy outcomes, but will drastically limit the ability of homeowners to install and use gas stoves in their homes and enjoy the cost savings that come with their use in some areas of the country.”

Still, the controversy over the idea of banning gas stoves was so strong that Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm opted to share the update in a written statement rather than during a press conference where the obvious questions would pop up.

“President Biden is committed to using all the tools at the administration’s disposal to lower costs for American families and deliver healthier communities — including energy efficiency measures like the one announced today,” Granholm said, not mentioning anything involving the brouhaha surrounding gas stoves.

And as for the 3% of the gas stoves that don’t meet DOE standards, they also get something of a break – the new regulation will not take effect until early 2028. Okay, on to the next controversy!

Phil Hall is editor of Weekly Real Estate news. He can be reached at [email protected]

 

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