Unplugged: No More Game of Hide-and-Seek for Consumers
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…
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.
Under the old rule, consumers had to fish around in unlikely places and hope to get lucky looking for this information. Now retailers will display it right next to the product photo and purchase price (like in the example at left), and manufacturers will also make it available on their own websites.
Earthjustice—on behalf of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, Consumers Union and Public Citizen—petitioned FTC to make this change so that online consumers would have the same right to information as shoppers at brick-and-mortar stores. As the 10,000 of you who urged FTC to grant the petition made clear, these disclosures are increasingly important as more consumers do more of their shopping and research online.
More work remains to be done. FTC’s announcement on Monday did nothing to fix many of the rule’s other shortcomings.
- Product listings on marketplace websites like Amazon.com are often missing this information, as are products at big-box brick-and-mortar stores.
- Boxes that contain room air conditioners, compact fridges and water heaters do not show this information, even though many stores display only the boxes and not the products themselves.
- Refrigerator labels obscure the impact of different configurations and features and hinder consumers who want to compare across types.
With your help, Earthjustice will continue to lead the effort to improve and enforce the labeling rule. In the meantime, let’s enjoy a victory to begin the New Year. Thanks to everyone who made it happen.
Jon Wiener was an associate attorney in the Washington, D.C. office, focusing on energy efficiency issues.
Earthjustice’s Washington, D.C., office works at the federal level to prevent air and water pollution, combat climate change, and protect natural areas. We also work with communities in the Mid-Atlantic region and elsewhere to address severe local environmental health problems, including exposures to dangerous air contaminants in toxic hot spots, sewage backups and overflows, chemical disasters, and contamination of drinking water. The D.C. office has been in operation since 1978.