Science says to throw out all of your appliances

Planet Earth can be saved if we all throw out our 2-10-year-old appliances that are in perfect working condition. That’s the Science according to the New York Times… “The Climate Fight Will Be Won in the Appliance Aisle” (Oct 1, 2023):

Two of these [Inflation Reduction Act] programs are tax credits meant to give Americans a tax discount when they install a new rooftop solar system, a geothermal-powered heater, a heat pump or another technology that reduces demand for carbon-emitting fossil fuels. Unlike other tax credits in the law, these programs have no income cap, so they can be used by wealthy Americans who can presumably afford to pay upfront to install residential equipment like a water heater. But like other new tax credits in the law, they require Americans to have some federal tax liability in the first place. If you owe nothing on your taxes, then you can’t get a discount.

The I.R.A. introduced a pair of rebate programs meant to help working- and middle-class Americans afford to upgrade appliances and other features of their homes. These two programs, known as HOMES and HEEHRA, are important. When it’s finally put in place, HEEHRA will lower the cost of heat pumps and other climate-friendly appliances at the point of sale, making them more affordable to consumers, including those who are not even aware of the policy. More than perhaps any other programs in the law, these rebates are meant to allow low-income Americans to reduce their monthly energy costs. And because they involve direct cash grants, using the rebates will not require oweing any taxes to the federal government. That is huge for retirees and Social Security recipients, many of whom have no earned income and little to no federal tax liability.

The climate fight might be waged in the streets. But it will be won in the appliance aisle.

It is, of course, wonderful that working-class renters must pay for the new high-end air conditioning systems enjoyed by elite homeowners. But I’m confused as to how this can save the planet. If people throw out working appliances and buy new ones, which have to be manufactured, shipped, and installed, won’t that actually increase CO2 emissions? If so, should we consider New York sustainability expert William Lauder to be the greatest environmentalist of the moment? He pushed a 6-year-old house into a landfill:

The new house, presumably, will include higher-efficiency Sub-Zero refrigerators with R600a refrigerant. Our planet, then, began to heal when the excavators started work on this obsolete 6-year-old 36,000-square-foot house.

7 thoughts on “Science says to throw out all of your appliances

  1. My 25+ year-old, white Kenmore refrigerator works perfectly. I bought it from a guy 15 years ago that kept it in his garage for beer. Unfortunately for him, he got laid off from his blue collar trades job during the real estate crash and was leaving FL to move back to MA. I’m sure this old Kenmore won’t survive my kitchen designer coming tomorrow for the first step of my kitchen remodel.

    Two years ago I got a $400 federal income tax credit for installing a natural gas-powered tankless water heater.

    My Dad just installed a 16-seer 4-ton Carrier central AC ($9000, incl. ten year parts & labor warranty), he’ll get a $600 federal income tax credit for tax year 2023.

  2. The lion kingdom feels the burden of its landlord’s appliances with every state capital gains tax payment.

  3. Does memory serve me incorrectly, or are some of these miracle appliances crappy ones whose most effective modes have been removed for reasons of carbon emission reduction. (Hobbled dishwashers and that sort of thing?)

  4. I guess one other thing that’s remarkable about that posting is:
    Of the potentially millions of dollars of equipment and materials that went into the original house, how much of it was reclaimed or sold for reuse? It used to be that there were entire businesses that would try to reclaim the fittings and decorations from quality houses. Reclaimed timbers are valuable too.
    It looks like this house was built like a McMansion and is being demolished like a McMansion. They’re not even trying to salvage the windows.

  5. In California, they’re also forcing electrification
    while also preparing to ban small gas generators
    So you can’t even be sure your appliances will even work when you need them. (Which the suspicious think might actually be part of the objective)

  6. I did my part. I replaced a West Germany made Liebherr (so at least 30 years old) with a Samsung. The freezer was broken in the Liebherr and we needed more space (made possible by replacing the built-in Liebherr with a Samsung taking the exact same footprint but not needing the cabinet).

    Liebherr still makes what look like great appliances but I couldn’t justify paying the premium on our mini Euro wages.

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