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issue: June 2006 APPLIANCE Magazine

European Report
Energy Saving in Gas Cooking


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by Paul Roggema, Europe correspondent

APPLIANCE magazine was on location in Milan, Italy on March 30, 2006, for a 1-day technical conference organized by Italian gas cooking component supplier Sabaf.

The overriding theme of the conference: You don’t need cutting-edge technology to achieve energy efficiency in home appliances.
Sabaf CEO Angelo Bettinzoli showed components such as the Series III gas cooking burners with 65-percent efficiency, compared to 52 percent for a standard model. CO and CO2 emissions are also reduced. The company explained how using aluminum instead of brass for gas valves resulted in a 28-percent energy savings during manufacturing. Aluminum also makes the component 60-percent lighter, saving on packaging and transport, and lead content is reduced by 85 percent. Bettinzoli pointed out the differences in legally allowed use of lead in raw materials: for brass, 340 g per dm3 material is allowed, while in aluminum the limit is just 11 g per dm3. The discrepancy is difficult to justify, he said, and the low limits for aluminum alloys limits machining options. This results in increased energy expenditures for use of aluminum, and efforts to reduce overall use of lead is hampered.
Paolo Bertoldi, from the Directorate General Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, discussed the EuP (Energy-using Products) directive from the European Commission. This framework is intended to design uniform standards for eco-design, allowing eco-friendly products to move freely in all markets, and to create an environment in which individual countries cannot use eco-design rulings to limit international competition. European initiatives in this area have proven the approach can be successful, Bertoldi said, pointing to Europe’s successful energy labels as an example.
Bertoldi described areas in which substantial energy savings can still be achieved in Europe, such as in the sale of light bulbs. Eighty million fluorescent light bulbs were sold in Europe in 2004, compared to 2 billion incandescent bulbs. Since fluorescent bulbs use about 80 percent less electricity, the potential for energy savings is significant. Improvements are also needed in standby power, space heating and cooling, and water heating, Bertoldi said. He also reported that electric ovens, with a penetration level of approximately 80 percent, use on average 1.2 kWh per cycle. Models with a Class A energy efficiency rating use just 0.75 kWh. Gas ovens are said to offer even more savings in primary energy use. More good news comes on the refrigeration front, with EU figures showing that refrigeration products in Europe now use about 40 percent less energy than they did 10 years ago.
René Kemna, co-founder and director of Dutch engineering consultancy VHK (Delft, the Netherlands), worked on the firm’s large eco-design methodology. He described how eco-design can be viewed as a balance between the best available (and typically most expensive) technologies and Least Life Cycle Costs (LLCC).

Cooking Energy

Cooking appliances only represent 2 percent of fuel-related CO2 emissions. It is one of the most heterogeneous product sectors in Europe, making effective redesigns difficult.
Kemna suggested ideas for new gas appliance designs. As many gas cooking appliances have a capacity of more than 7 kW, he said it is conceivable for example, to combine cooking and space heating, the kitchen tap hot water supply, dishwasher hot water supply, and heat exchangers for sewer water and ventilation.
Ernst-Jürgen Breford, chairman of the Technical Committee of CECED (the European Committee of Domestic Equipment Manufacturers), presented his own figures proving how much progress has been made regarding European appliance energy efficiency. Clothes washers in the 1970s, for example, used 200 L water vs. 50 L today. Electricity used today is less than half as much.
However, he pointed out that Europe should not only focus on reducing consumption for new appliances, but also find ways to replace the large number of outdated appliances currently in use. In Europe, he said, there are 633 million appliances in use, but 188 million appliances are older than 10 years. Substantial energy savings would result from exchanging these old units for newer, more energy efficient appliances. The trend, however, is toward longer use of appliances: up from 13.2 years in 1999 to 13.7 years in 2004.
Benoit Lebot from the United Nations Development Program (Global Environment Facility) focused on the more than 2 billion people worldwide that depend on traditional fuels such as wood and dung for cooking and heating, largely on open fires. This presents health dangers; respiratory diseases from cooking cause more than 2 million deaths annually in India alone. Women bear the burden of these hardships, as they typically meet the family energy needs, and this limits their potential for education. Alternatives for developing countries are simple biogas installations, simple wood-burning stoves and solar cookers, which can save up to 12 hours of labor per week and result in major quality-of-life improvements for users.
The variety in European appliance use was illustrated in market data from Matilde Soregaroli of research firm GfK. Germany, Austria and Sweden do not use gas at all for cooking, she reported. Only France and Portugal use cooking appliances with gas and electricity combined, and only to a limited degree. In Italy, electric cooking is almost unknown. Efficiencies vary widely as well. German ovens are 80 percent class A; in the United Kingdom only 27 percent are.

Gas Safety in Italy

As the conference took place in Italy, Pieraldo Isolani from the Italian consumer association Adiconsum pointed to the large number of gas-related accidents in Italian homes. The blame was laid on outdated safety regulations. The gas tap in the home is not located in the kitchen and is not closed after cooking, many hobs have no flame monitoring and gas hoses are not replaced when needed. Many customers, notably the elderly, can’t afford to replace old equipment.
Adiconsum suggests several measures, including creating a fund to subsidize upgrades and urging consumer organizations, as well as gas and equipment suppliers, to carry out an information campaign addressing these security issues.

 

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