Federal government proposes new energy consumption standards for home appliances

The federal government is looking for ways to make sure Canadians are using energy efficient home appliances.

Natural Resources Canada is considering updating standards for home appliances like fridges, ovens and laundry machines.

The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) is all for the push to make appliances more energy efficient, but has some concerns about how far lawmakers will take new standards.

“Today’s appliances are very energy efficient. So for example, a modern refrigerator uses half the energy it did a few decades ago and less energy than a 60-watt light bulb,” government relations director Meagan Hatch told Global News.

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In June, Canada and the U.S. signed an agreement to work together to meet net-zero emissions by 2050 which includes standards for energy efficiency.

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That was relieving news for manufacturers and retailers who had concerns that Energy Star-certified appliances would become the benchmark, ultimately not matching regulations south of the border.

“Therefore (putting) retailers and consumers in a very difficult spot in that things would have to be specifically manufactured for the Canadian market,” Retail Council of Canada regulatory affairs vice-president Jason McLinton said.

He pointed out the example Canada and the U.S. have on regulation around other products like baby car seats and how the U.S. marketplace has access to innovative products because of design regulations in Canada.

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Ottawa started consultation on the proposal in May, and has extended it to the end of July.

A statement from Natural Resources Canada said, “… the evidence will support final decisions, including implementation timing, ensuring supply chain readiness and that manufacturers have the necessary lead time to adapt with predictability and certainty.”

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It went on to say manufacturers won’t be required to join the Energy Star program, which is voluntary, and their products don’t need to be Energy Star certified.

But the Retail Council of Canada noted limiting stores to certain products would be a blow to customer choice and another to those who can’t afford energy-friendly appliances, which tend to be more expensive.

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On top of this regulation change, manufacturers and retailers face a supply issue.

“Refrigerators, some members are reporting as high as 50 per cent on backorder as it stands now,” McLinton said.

He said the backlog is a result of a few factors.

There have been shipping delays because of a shortage of containers.

Customers have more disposable income and are able to spend money on new appliances, adding to the list.

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McLinton added manufacturers are competing for parts with manufacturers of other products, specifically ones used in smart appliances which are also used in cell phones and tablets.

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“Wait times are already very very long and it’s hard to imagine why they’re coming out with this at this time as now more than ever families are depending on home appliances while working from home,” Hatch added.

Natural Resources Canada said its intention is to have new rules ready for 2022 with them being implemented at a later date.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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