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Residential and commercial laundry appliance OEMs are focusing their attention on practical considerations due to economic conditions. Energy efficiency and the reduction of hazardous materials are the primary considerations for both manufacturers. Front-load washing machines are inherently more efficient due to reduced water consumption. Energy-efficiency standards for dryers were some of the last to be developed because dryers are dependent largely on the water-extraction capabilities of the washers.
The steadily rising electric, natural gas, and oil costs are reflected in the decline in U.S. factory unit shipments during 2011. For September 2011, home-laundry U.S. factory unit shipments for electric and gas dryers as well as automatic washers totaled 1,342,500, down 6% from STLY. For the first nine months of 2011, unit shipments amounted to 10,131,600, decreasing 6.2% when compared to STLY figures.
95% of the energy used for a cycle of laundry is for heating water. By utilizing cold-water washing technology, the U.S. alone could save 10% of the total energy consumed by all domestic appliances and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26-34 million tons. Cold-water technology is being driven by detergent makers as well as equipment makers who have recognized the significant energy savings that comes from using unheated, or less-heated, water.
Haier America launched its first front-load laundry line for the U.S. market in mid-2011 and one model, the HWF5300AW, has a Green Wash cycle specifically tested for energy efficiency. Using the Green Wash cycle in combination with Tide HE coldwater detergent, the washer provides 80% energy savings compared to using a warm water cycle in a standard top-load washer.
Appliance OEMs continue to look for growth within new markets as well as emerging regions. Through acquisitions, large OEMs including Electrolux and Arcelik have expanded their facilities to high-growth regions. Earlier this year, Electrolux purchased Egyptian appliance maker Olympic Group and South American appliance company Compañia Tecno Industrial, both of which manufacture washing machines for regional markets.
Water-less washing, the process that uses plastic chips in place of water to clean clothes, is a huge opportunity for the laundry sector. The concept was first introduced by Stephen Burkinshaw, a U.K. university professor. Waterless washing would significantly cut energy costs that come from the typical wash and drying process while using extremely low volumes of water. The predicted commercial laundry cost savings would exceed 30%.
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