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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.

Act on House Legislation Now!

As the House is set to vote on historic energy and climate change legislation today, AHAM is ardently working to improve the language.  The Washington Times cited AHAM’s concerns on a few of the bill’s provisions.  Although the House energy bill embraces the potentially game changing application of smart grid technology to home appliances, if passed as is, it will greatly weaken the national marketplace and in essence could create 50 unique standards for home appliances, superseding the one federal efficiency standards program that has been in place successfully for many years.  Home appliance owners beware! This could increase cost of appliances and decrease product selection.  The Washington Times explained the ENERGY STAR and standards analysis provisions like this: 

The bill would also make changes to the government's Energy Star program, which recognizes dishwashers, refrigerators and other appliances that save energy. The tougher standards would mean these "energy saving" products would cost more than regular products and it would take longer for consumers to recoup the extra costs through savings on their energy bill, critics say.

"It doesn't do any good to have high-price, energy-efficient products if people will just pay to have their old appliances fixed," said Kevin Messner, vice president of government relations for the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers.

Take a moment to let the legislators know how you feel about this bill.  House Leadership is trying to pass this bill today!  AHAM has a tool in place that will help you draft a letter to your Representative.  Click here— more than 450 people already have.

Breakfast with Van Hollen

This morning, I went to a good breakfast meet and greet with Congressman Van Hollen.  Van Hollen is a member of the House Democratic leadership (assistant to the Speaker and head of the Democratic Campaign arm). On behalf of AHAM, I thanked him for his help and leadership with the inclusion of $300 million in the stimulus for the Energy Efficient Appliance Rebate Program.  Although we know of and appreciate the Administration's work to get this funding to the states, it is time to cross the finish line and deliver the needed funding to the states. The sooner the states receive the funding, the sooner new ENERGY STAR appliance owners will receive a significant rebate on the purchase cost.  Congressman Van Hollen appreciated the update and expressed an interest in helping to ensure the stimulus' implementation is successful. He spoke of the need to balance the implementation so that there is a robust program with appropriate speed. Van Hollen made a note to look into the rebate funding further.

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.

Promoting Appliance Sustainability

Sustainability and “being green?? remain hot buzzwords in 2009, even as the economy cools down.  Most industries have benefited from marketing their sustainability efforts.  In fact, the green building materials market grew 45% between 2003 and 2008 to $57 billion.  

For the home appliance industry, sustainable practices can include designing products to use less, or more natural materials.  It can include reducing energy usage or packaging materials.  It can also include designing products that use post-consumer recycled materials. 

Household appliances have been demonstrating sustainability for many years.  Since the 1970s, major appliance manufacturers have been designing products that show significant decreases in energy consumption each year.  

And, beyond energy, 90% of major appliances are recycled at end-of-life!  The steel used in your refrigerator today may be the same steel used in your new car tomorrow.  Recycled steel is efficient and reduces the drain on our environment by avoiding the mining of coal and iron ore.   

The home appliance industry has made dramatic improvements to appliances over the recent years and is committed to providing high-performance sustainable products for years to come.  Producing and promoting sustainable products is one of the most important efforts we can make to improve our lives, and the lives of the generations to come.