• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Your Tax Dollars Going to an Energy-Efficient TV Competition

    Doesn’t the Department of Energy (DOE) have enough needless programs and spending projects on its plate?

    DOE recently announced that it is launching a new program in cahoots with the Consortium for Energy Efficiency in which they will award the producer of the most efficient television. Producers will compete internationally for the chance to stamp their televisions with a logo from the DOE saying their products are energy efficient, leading consumers to believe that they will save money on their electricity bills.

    Maybe they will, but if a producer is going to make a product that’s better than the competition and will save consumers money, why is there a need for federal government involvement?

    The television contest is part of the Super-efficient Equipment and Appliance Deployment (SEAD) initiative. Launched in July 2010, SEAD has a budget of $25.5 million from the United States, not including a potential $6 billion they could receive from other government members of the Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE). The CEE, stacked with board members from energy corporations, gives out awards to companies that they deem have energy-efficient products.

    While a television award may seem like a trivial matter, it is a symbol of the larger problem with the DOE and its partner environmental agencies: DOE wastes taxpayer dollars engaging in activities that the market is perfectly capable of handling on its own.

    U.S. taxpayers paid a total of $7.5 billion in 2010 for energy efficiency programs, which take the form of advertisements to encourage Americans to buy “green” and energy-efficient technologies. When the government promotes one good over another, it causes distortions in the market. DOE involvement ignores the fact that consumers can make choices on their own and that producers do not need mandates to make more energy-efficient products.

    A more extreme program is the federal ban on incandescent light bulbs. This ban creates an inefficient market because it forces Americans to buy goods they may not want—and at a higher price. Not only is incandescent lighting considered better quality, but the fluorescent light bulbs are more expensive and do not have the energy-saving quality that was originally estimated. Just as with more energy-efficient televisions, if the fluorescent light bulbs are a better product, consumers will buy them on their own, so there is no need for the government to ban other bulbs.

    Energy efficiency is just one area in which DOE spending is wasteful, inefficient, and unnecessary. Just take a look at some of the press releases on the DOE’s Web site:

    Many of these programs are attempts at commercialization that are better left to the private sector. In fact, in the “Innovative Manufacturing Processes” press release, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu says, “These breakthrough manufacturing processes, technologies, and materials will help American companies to reduce energy waste and lower costs.”

    It is not the role of the government to help companies lower their costs. They have incentive to do that on their own. Nor is it the role of the federal government to force certain technologies into the marketplace or attempt to dictate choices on the consumer. It’s time to get rid of these wasteful policies.

    The blog was co-authored by Laura Stanley, who currently is a member of the Young Leaders Program at the Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit: http://www.heritage.org/about/internships-young-leaders/the-heritage-foundation-internship-program

    Posted in Energy [slideshow_deploy]

    14 Responses to Your Tax Dollars Going to an Energy-Efficient TV Competition

    1. MaverickCoast says:

      Remember the snow job when we were sold a bill of goods about ethanol. Not only was ethanol NOT energy efficient, but it basically costs more because of the food source (corn) it uses. The advantages of using it in our cars never did materialize.

    2. Marsha says:

      The Government is never happy unless they are wasting taxpayers hard earned money and trying to stick their big noses in our private lives. As the article stated, the consumer can make their own choices as to what product they want to purchase and use. I agree wholeheartedly…….OBNOXIOUS!!!

    3. Kay_L says:

      Not just light bulbs. Check out the new high efficiency washers. My towels and clothes stink!

      The one key feature that would help me live with an HE washer would be the ability to override the amount of water but no such feature is allowed.

      And they are cutting down on the regular models. It used to be that the top loaders were the traditional washers but no longer. Aisles and aisles of HE top loaders.

      It's not energy efficient for me to have to wash a load of laundry two or three times so that it is actually clean.

      There is no way that any of these HE washers (front or top loader) can stand up to a traditional top loading washer. Only by making manufacturers phase out the better washers can they claim that these new energy efficient models are the best.

    4. Linda says:

      All I want to do is scream! The dishonesty, the corruption, the bribery, the con games…unless there is a shred of honor left in the government, we are lost. gone. ended. Horse thieves every one of them.

    5. JTMunny says:

      The DOE is doing NOTHING to help the people it supposedly serves.

    6. LittleGuy says:

      We must have an energy-efficient left-wing propaganda device (TV) for the masses!

    7. Jay Jay says:

      Really? What is your background in lighting to make the claim that incandescent bulbs are better than alternatives. Do some research on LED systems and try to figure out why corporate giants are spends 100's of millions of dollars on LEDs. Figure out why every other country in the world is making the change to LED. If you are looking for a conspiracy it isn't at the DOE. It is in congress and the lobbing dollars from big oil and coal.

      As far as consumers making their own decisions. They have had their chances to do so and every single time blew it. Consumers made some great decisions on real estate recently, not sure if you remember that or not. The best economy in recent times was the 2nd Clinton term. Unfortunately the government is better with the money than the consumers….the proof is in the pudding with 4 years of surplus budget and who was unhappy during those times? Not anyone I know.

      I do agree that government needs to stay out of a lot of things and spending can come under control, but energy efficiency cut backs is not the avenue to take.

      • Tim AZ says:

        The reason other countries are switching to LED's is because their governments are far more socialist than our govt. is presently. The consumers of every other country have very limited choices based on what their govt. agrees to under the direction of the UN. Can you produce documentation that shows the coal and oil industry is lobbying for incandescent light bulbs? I do agree with you that the govt. budget during Slick Willie's second term was much more acceptable. So yes we should set the Govt. budget to what it was during Slick Willy's last term in office and not print money through the Federal Reserve as a back door tax on the American people.

    8. Tim AZ says:

      The DOE is playing the same shell game that every other govt. agency plays. When subsidies are employed it seems cheaper because the tax dollars that are front loaded are not reflected at the point of sale to the consumer. You are paying twice for the product once through taxes you pay. Then at the cash register or at the point of sale. Sure some won't pay taxes as long as they maintain a certain level of poverty or keep their jowls firmly locked onto the big govt. teat. Yes the latter two are the ones who will most strongly support any and all subsidies with the exception of the business owners who are taking the subsidies in order to remain profitable at the expense of the tax payers. This is how govt. creates winners that consumer's would not support with their spending dollars otherwise.

    9. Tim AZ says:

      Well hears the answer you've been hoping not to read Jay Jay. The reason every other country is turning from incandescent bulbs is because their governments are socialist and bow to the dictates of UN policies that help these socialist governments decide what their citizens may use for lighting and everything else throughout their daily lives. I believe you when you say that you can't be trusted to make proper choices as to which products you should spend your money on. How ever you should not attempt to include the rest of us in that category with you for your own comfort. I also agree with you that we should return the government's budget to the level it was in Clinton's last term in office. Have a nice Day Jay Jay.

    10. lighthouse says:

      RE "Just as with more energy-efficient televisions, if the fluorescent light bulbs are a better product, consumers will buy them on their own, so there is no need for the government to ban other bulbs."


      TV sets or Light Bulbs don't burn coal, and they don't give out CO2 gas:
      there are many more relevant ways of dealing with electricit­y generation­,
      distributi­on and consumptio­n, and less than 1% of US energy is saved
      by for example the lighting standards anyway, according to US Dept of Energy and
      other official statistics (http://ceo­las.net/#l­i171x )

      Unfortunately, as you also say,
      energy efffciency regulations affect product qualities that consumers might find useful:
      For example. performance, usability, construction,.appearance as well as price
      This applies to buildings and cars (fuel efficiency regulations) as well as electrical appliances

      An extensive rundown why energy efficiency regulations are wrong,
      how they affect different products,
      and how alternative market or tax policies are better at delivering any efficiency required,
      can be seen on the above- mentioned ceolas.net website.

    11. Beth says:

      Save energey! Eliminate DOE and close all those office bldgs, get rid of the fleet vehicles, etc. Throw in the Dept of Education, Commerce and Labor while we are at it.

    12. Jay Jay says:

      No reason to let the truth get in the way of your opinions. I deal with the science of energy efficiency.

      First, the country with the largest investment of LED products is not socialist, rather communist (China). China surpassed us this year in manufacturing, in case you are keeping score. The 2nd largest is the USA. So I am not sure where you got your socialist numbers from, I guess you just make it up as you go.

      If you look up the investment put in to LED products by large US corporations, you will multiple multi-million dollar purchases done by companies such as Google, Ebay, Walmart, McDonalds, Amazon, Intel and the list goes on and on. Remember, corporations do things in the name of profit because they have stock holders to answer to. If incandescent bulbs were more cost effective, why are these companies switching to LED? So you can stick with incandescent if you wish, but you are just throwing money down the drain. BTW I am not a big fan of the CFLs either. Check out OLED products. If you do your due diligence on lighting technologies you will learn a lot, not only about the technology but also how much energy can be saved in the US just by simply switching to LED.

      As far as big oil and coal, come on brother, actions speak louder than words. Just a couple of weeks ago the Senate appropriations committee cut the DOE budget for alt energy and weatherization. Which would be fine if that cut was across the board for all energy products. Yet at the same time they increased fossil fuel research???? Did you know that the three cheapest forms of energy, in order, are geothermal, hydro and nuclear? Only nuclear gets subsidized, out of the three. Nuclear's subsidies are nothing compared to oil and coal. Why don't they just cut all subsidies and let the free market decide? Well because there is oil and coal money floating through our elected officials, is my guess. Another racket is how gas is priced, it is priced off of Brent futures….WHY? Check out Jim Cramer's rant during the last part of his show last night (June 29th, 2011) he lays it all out, it would take too much space here.

      The silly part about the entire energy system is, we do not really have that much of a problem. All the technology is there. Unfortunately there is just too much money in oil and coal for the powers that be. Capitalism, as good as it has been, breed a ton of greed and corruption, just look through recent history for that evidence.

    13. Jay Jay says:


      Your link to the 1% savings is a political based site. Lets use some real facts, that does not have some hidden agenda behind it.

      Fact 1: If someone were to wave a magic wand and convert every single light bulb in the USA to LED we could shut down 24 coal plants.

      Fact 2: If the same wand was used in number 1, the USA would see a 25% decrease in energy consumption. Personally I think that number is high and it is closer to 18%.

      Fact 3: OLED products use paper as their filament. Our lumber and paper industry here has taken a massive beating over the past 10 years, this would create even more American jobs.

      Fact 4: The best LED in the world is made right here in the USA via CREE. CREE is the only LED in the world that can produce a pure white light (if the consumer wants that) that is guaranteed for 50,000 hours….WOW! Where we do lose out is foreign countries buy the CREE LEDs and then make their own bulbs. We could keep these jobs here, but large oil and coal does everything in their power to keep mass LED out of the USA.

      Fact 5: Even at today's prices on LEDs the residential payback is around 5 years and the commercial payback is usually under 2 years…..this is exactly why large corporations are making the switch. Here is some news just from yesterday: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/weston-fl

      Fact 6: LED saves a ton in other aspects such as lower heat emitted (greater savings in cooling environments) and maintenance / replacement costs.

      Fact 7: LED lights do not emit UV light. Bugs are attracted to UV and not actual visual light. Think of all the applications where bugs are not only a pest, but sometimes a health hazard.

      Here is an actual DOE link (not sure where lighthouse is grabbing numbers from): http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/buildings/publicatio

      Jay Jay

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.