A VICTORY FOR ENERGY EFFICIENCY….During its final days in office, the Clinton administration finished a new set of rules mandating a 30% improvement in energy efficiency for home air conditioners. The Bush administration, as part of its neverending battle to show its contempt for energy conservation and make sure that we stay as dependent as possible on foreign oil, decided to cut that to 20%.

Fortunately, rolling back energy efficiency standards is illegal once they’ve been established, so a court tossed out the lowered standards yesterday. Good for them.

My prediction: as usual, the yelping from industry will prove to be 100% specious. They will implement the standards without increasing the price of air conditioners one penny, and if they don’t the Japanese and Koreans will. Just wait and see.

POSTSCRIPT: This is a pretty common scenario, by the way. When new standards are unveiled, foreign companies just get to work and implement them, usually pretty painlessly. American companies, by contrast, spend several years lobbying and suing and generally raising holy hell, and by the time the dust settles the foreign companies are already in compliance. If American companies spent as much time doing the damn engineering work as they do whining about it, American manufacturing just might be a little more competitive than it is.

ANOTHER POSTSCRIPT: This is only barely on topic, but I can personally attest that this energy efficiency stuff really works. We bought a new refrigerator last year and I think we vaguely figured that all the energy efficiency stickers pasted on the showroom doors were just marketing hype. But after it was installed we found that our electricity bill really did go down substantially ? about $30 per month. Imagine that! At this rate it’s going to pay for itself within a few years.

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