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Jonathan Wiener's blog

Few household appliances use as much energy or get replaced as rarely as clothes dryers. And unlike with most other household appliances, you won’t learn this when you are shopping for a new model.

The typical dryer uses more energy than the typical refrigerator, clothes washer, or dishwasher. But unlike all three of those products, dryers do not have to display yellow-and-black Energy Guide labels disclosing their energy costs.

If you are one of the millions of American consumers who shop or browse online for major appliances and would like to know the environmental impact your new purchase will have, we’ve got some good news. The Federal Trade Commission has finally updated its newly named Energy Labeling Rule to make it easier for you to compare models and to know the energy consumption (and operating cost) of new products.

When the Government Accountability Office studied energy efficiency labeling in 2007, it found a surprising number of products on display in appliance stores were missing required labels. A year later, the Federal Trade Commission conducted a similar study. It likewise found that significant numbers of products were missing labels. In both cases, labels for many products on display were hard to find, difficult to read, or detached from the product.

When the Federal Trade Commission looked into energy efficiency labeling online, it found that retailer after retailer was failing to provide consumers with required information about appliance operating costs and energy usage. Even after the agency levied stiff fines against some retailers, many if not most retailers continued to ignore their consumers’ need for this information.

Then we got involved.

Back in July, I wrote about the lengths to which shoppers sometimes have to go in order to find legally required energy efficiency information about appliances for sale online. In response, more than 10,000 of you wrote in supporting our petition telling the Federal Trade Commission to require online retailers to display that information front and center in their product listings.

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