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AHAM Publishes Major Appliance Historical Data Tables

AHAM has updated and published its Major Appliance Historical Tables, which includes major appliance shipment data from the first year shipments were tracked through the end of 2008.  This unique data set includes total shipments of products that are imported, exported and produced domestically. 

Analysts will see monthly data for major appliance categories beginning in the 1970’s through the present and annual data for most categories from the 1940’s or earlier.  According to the historical data, in 1948, 700,000 clothes washers were shipped.

The Major Appliance Historical Tables are available for purchase in the AHAM Store.  

Breakfast with Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT)

ChaffetzI attended a small breakfast meeting this morning with Congressman Chaffetz, who is a Republican member from Utah and is a member of the Judiciary, Natural Resources and Oversight & Government Reform Committees.

Chaffetz is a freshman Member of Congress who says that his success in the election was due to grassroots effort and using social media outlets such as Facebook and YouTube.

I informed him about the recent release of funding for the Energy Efficient Appliance Rebate Program, in which Utah may participate if the state energy office sends their initial application to the Department of Energy by August 15.  The Congressman was not aware of the release of the solicitation for this program and appreciated learning about it.  The Congressman, in jest, was disappointed, as he just purchased a new refrigerator and cooktop.  I reassured him that there is no reason for him to have buyer’s remorse because he would be seeing savings in his utility bill due to the fact that the average energy use of a new refrigerator is about the same as a 60W light bulb left on 24 hours a day.

Frozen Food Safety

NBC 4 in Washington, D.C. recently broadcast a segment on frozen food safety where consumer reporter Liz Crenshaw tested a variety of frozen food products.  She reminds consumers that it is essential to follow the manufacturers' instructions when cooking a frozen meal in the microwave or conventional oven.  Some foods may need to sit after cooking to ensure the proper internal temperature is reached.  Know your microwave wattage, use a thermometer and follow the instructions exactly.   Watch the video below to see the full segment:

AHAM has more information about microwave ovens under the consumer information section of our web site.

BIG NEWS! DOE INITIATES APPLIANCE REBATE PROGRAM

Today the Department of Energy announced the funding for the Energy Efficient Appliance Consumer Rebate Program, which will deliver direct rebates to consumers for the purchase of ENERGY STAR appliances.  AHAM has been working with the DOE since this program was first announced in the stimulus bill, a.k.a the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, as we believe it is the most practical and effective step a homeowner can take to increase energy efficiency of their home and immediately reduce utility bills.   

 

Now, it is up to each State Energy Office to register its interest in obtaining funding for this program.  Several states already have announced that they will be applying for the funding.  Arizonans could get $6.2 million for appliances!   Missouri and Kansas are lining up for their share of the funding.  Residents of New Mexico are ready to help stimulate the economy and decrease their energy bills with their share of the funding, amounting to $2 million.  


AHAM encourages the states to submit their plans to DOE early to put money in their residents’ hands as quickly as possible.   

If you are in the market for a new appliance, tell us what you think, and which appliance you will buy first. 

Major Appliances: Recycled and Reused

Recycling is something most of us do every day when we separate our consumables at home. Recently, San Francisco has taken recycling to a new level by requiring that county residents separate compost from trash!

We most commonly think of recyclables as bottles, cans and glass.   What is the most recyclable material?  Is it plastic bottles, newspapers, glass jars, metal cans, cardboard boxes, or refrigerators?  Well, the answer may surprise you.  Of the ones listed, it is refrigerators and other major appliances that have a combined recycling rate of well over 90%!

What happens to these appliances?  Whether you have them picked up when the new one is delivered, or whether you place it at the street for city pickup, these appliances make their way back to metal processing industries located across the U.S. (or, insert whichever country you live.)  They can be bundled, crushed, cubed, or shredded but the metals will be separated and used over and over again.  Steel is a remarkable material that forms not only the backbone of appliances, but the backbone of our country as well.  Recycled steel becomes the structural steel used in buildings, bridges, and roads.  And, the recycled plastics and insulation can provide energy or day-cover at landfills.

Do you have an old appliance that could be recycled?  1. Inquire if your retailer has a program to recycle appliances that they pick up.  2. Ask if your town or county has an appliance recycling program. (Or, ask: Why not?)  For more on appliance recycling visit: AHAM’s web site or www.recycle-steel.org.  You may also call 1-800-YES-1-CAN.

Breakfast with Congresswoman Halvorson

I attended a small breakfast meeting this morning with Congresswoman Debbie Halvorson, who is a Democratic member from Illinois and is a member of the Agriculture Committee.  It was a very timely meeting because the Agriculture Committee had a hearing on the climate change legislation later in the day.

The Congresswoman’s perspectives are very helpful because she is a freshman Member of Congress and in a swing congressional district (this seat was formerly held by Republican Jerry Weller, Bush won in 2000 and 2004, and Obama won with 53% of the vote).  She is also a member of the “New Democrat Coalition,?? which is a group of “moderate, pro-growth?? Democratic members.

I asked her for her views on a national marketplace and the weakening of this concept in the Waxman-Markey energy legislation.  She stated that she came from a state legislature (she was a State Senator) so she understands the desire for states to deal with standards; however, as a former small business person, she was well aware of the need for a national market.

Halvorson was willing to listen and learn– a great attribute for a Member of Congress.  Thanks to Congresswoman Halvorson for taking the time out of her day to have breakfast with various associations and understand the issues that are on our minds.

Toaster ovens do much more than toast

If you ever need to cook dinner in a hurry, or maybe you are only feeding one or two people, a toaster oven may provide you with added convenience to bake, broil, toast and roast smaller portions in a flash.  This small appliance is capable of much more than cooking frozen food for college students to eat during late night study breaks.  In the Washington Post article "The little oven that could" Joe Yonan describes several gourmet toaster oven recipes inspired by well respected chefs.  He notes that over 40% of households own a toaster oven, according to NPD Group, so read through the article and realize the full potential of your tiny oven!  Your taste buds will thank you for it!

AHAM Supports Annual LifeSmarts Championship

The 2009 National LifeSmarts Championship was held in St Louis, MO, where a team of high school students from Wisconsin took home the grand prize.  AHAM was proud to sponsor a portion of the grand prize for the second year in a row, which included scholarships, savings bonds and gift cards for the winners. 

LifeSmarts is a national competition for high school students hosted by the National Consumers League.  According to the NCL, LifeSmarts "competitively tests high school students’ knowledge of consumer awareness, with subjects including personal finance, health and safety, consumer rights and responsibility, technology, and the environment."  

Watch the short video below to see how LifeSmarts has helped more than 20,000 teens across the country.

The Need for Balanced Federal Energy Legislation

Congress is spending significant time this year on energy efficiency legislation, with a keen focus on appliance efficiency.  Both houses of Congress have committees developing new provisions relating to the development of appliance efficiency standards while the Department of Energy is struggling to comply with a federal court ordered schedule to complete work on several appliance standards.  This is while the agency is also attempting to adhere to additional new requirements on appliance efficiency included in laws enacted in 2005 and 2007.  AHAM is involved in influencing the outcome of the 2009 energy legislation to ensure an adequately funded federal program that blends national efficiency requirements, and education and incentive programs that encourage manufacturers and consumers to seek even higher efficiency products.

While AHAM is encouraged that the new legislation embraces the potentially game changing application of smart grid technology to home appliances, we are nonetheless concerned that portions of the legislation will do more harm than good to a well thought out national appliance efficiency program.  

Let me point out the areas we strongly support and the provisions we question.  Smart grid is a great place to begin.  As refrigerators undergo a fourth generation appliance efficiency standard at DOE, the law of diminishing returns begins to apply.  Today’s average refrigerators consume the same amount of energy over a year as a 60 watt light bulb.  The costs and benefits of tightening energy efficiency further are much more challenging.  But the energy bill encourages DOE and manufacturers to produce smart grid appliances that have the capability of communicating with a utility to defer certain energy consuming functions such as refrigerator defrost or heated tumbling in a clothes dryer from peak to non-peak energy generation times of day.  Nationwide, deployment of such products can materially assist in avoiding additional peak power plant usage and even serve as a backup for use of renewable energy generation.  We encourage national energy policy and utility rate policies to encourage development and use of smart grid technologies.

But at the same time, we have expressed our concern with portions of the House Energy and Commerce energy bill which could undermine the national appliance efficiency system.  For example, the bill increases by 60% the number of factors DOE must analyze when setting appliance standards.  Additionally, DOE will be required to take on redundant data requirements from product manufacturers which will only pile more onto their already heavy work pace and add burdens to product manufacturers.  We also believe the bill weakens the preeminence of national standards over conflicting state requirements.  Our view is that we give DOE the funds it needs to do its job and encourage a strong and innovative national system.  DOE’s basic test when setting appliance efficiency standards, which balance environmental benefits, consumer costs and manufacturer impact, should be protected and enhanced where possible.  But we must preserve the balance of these three main tests, akin to a three legged stool, so that the consumer can step up to a more efficient appliance.

Will Climate Change Reach Pennsylvania Avenue?

It is safe to say that the momentum is not behind the enactment of a broad climate change bill this year.  However, the more important question is whether it will happen next year.

For those who are still unsure whether the climate change bill will be completed this year, let me provide a few reasons it is unlikely:

  • Chair of the Senate Committee with jurisdiction (Environment & Public Works) hasn’t released legislation yet.
  • Midwest Democratic Senators have said they don’t see a bill moving this year.
  • Congressman Van Hollen (D-Md.) has suggested a vote might not take place this year.  This is significant because Van Hollen is head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and is responsible for electing more Democrats to the House and ensuring vulnerable Democratic members get re-elected.  This tells me that there is a worry that a climate change bill may not be selling well in swing districts.
  • Chairman Waxman is still struggling to find a majority of votes in his committee to pass a bill.

Using a crystal ball to look at the political landscape in 2010 – which is President Obama’s first mid-term election year—I see that politicians will be more risk averse the closer it gets to an election, and this one is just 6 months away.  Also, will politicians feel that the climate change “issue?? is better to have at their side during the 2010 campaign rather than trying to campaign on the success of a compromised climate change bill, which no one may be excited about?  And what will the state of our economy be and will it provide fodder for the opponents of climate change legislation who characterize it as an energy tax?

I see no improved political landscape for the enactment of climate change legislation next year.  With that said, for the home appliance industry, a separate agreement on HFC’s could splinter off and move on its own, which would provide some measure of success for the proponents of climate change legislation. But, there are many unknowns, politically, as we approach the mid-term elections.

Charlie Cook, a weekly columnist on national politics, recently wrote: “So we wait to see if President Obama will be a liability for Democrats, as presidents going into midterm elections often are, or if the momentum that Democrats built in 2006 and 2008 carries through.  We wait to see if Republicans either effectively regroup from their massive losses and mount a strong counterattack or if they are positioned to take advantage of political misfortunes and win simply because they are not Democrats.??

The legislative and political atmosphere can change quickly and we, as an industry, need to be prepared for anything that could enter the fray of climate change politics.  Remember, if climate change doesn’t get enacted into law in 2010, 2011 is a non-election year, but 2012 is right around the corner, and that, believe it or not folks, is another presidential election year.