In May, the Democrat-controlled New York State Legislature and Gov. Kathy Hochul inked a $229 billion state budget agreement that included a ban on residential gas stoves. By 2029, only electric ranges will be allowed in new residences.
The policy is similar to bans imposed by local governments in places such as New York City and California. Advocates say those laws help curtail climate change by reducing natural gas consumption and protect people's health by reducing in-home emissions.
Opponents who cited studies finding no causal link between gas stoves and asthma won few converts in Albany, nor did they sway legislators with their argument that burning gas in power plants to power electric stoves is less efficient and therefore probably worse for the climate.
Defenders of consumer choice are fighting a two-front war. One week after New York approved its gas stove ban, the Biden administration proposed new energy efficiency rules for dishwashers that would require new machines to use less water and electricity. Such rules already target showerheads, microwave ovens, conventional ovens, refrigerators, and laundry machines.
The administration argues that the new rules will eventually save consumers billions of dollars on utility bills. Manufacturers say the savings will be eaten up by the higher prices of the machines they will be forced to make.
Higher prices driven by federal mandates historically have been accompanied by worse products. As efficiency standards for dishwashers got tighter under President Barack Obama, manufacturers met them by making machines that circulate less water over a longer wash cycle. Many people responded by hand-washing their dishes, a practice that uses more water.
One should expect unintended consequences when state mandates collide with individual choice. And even if the government could perfectly predict the results of its actions, that would not justify its interference.
People know their own needs best. When purchasing a new oven, dishwasher, or washing machine, they make tradeoffs.
Are you going to use your dishwasher a lot? If not, the cheaper upfront cost of a more energy-hungry model makes sense. Some people prefer the peace of mind that comes with an electric stove. People who care about price and efficiency may prefer gas.
Central planners tend to downplay the effects of their bans and regulations, assuming they acknowledge them at all. The U.S. Department of Energy has a whole FAQ correcting "misinformation" about its appliance rules. But consumers are feeling justified anger at these policies.