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Report: Water-less Washing Could Produce Cost Savings of 30%
Nov 30, 2011
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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 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 washers.

Steadily rising electric, natural gas, and oil costs are reflected in the decline in U.S. factory unit shipments during 2011. For September 2011, 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, a decrease of 6.2% compared to STLY figures.

"The increase in energy costs and a difficult economic climate are negatively impacting the 2011 sales of washers and dryers," says Andrew Humphreys, editor in chief of UBM Canon Data Products. "Consumers are in need of a new wave of energy-efficient washers and dryers that are budget friendly."

New washers are being developed to reach the top tiers of efficiency. Turkish-based Arcelik's Beko-brand offers Aquafusion Technology, designed to consume 20% less energy than Europe's A+++ energy class. A Beko-brand dryer consumes 60% less energy compared to the A class, using a "Flexysense" feature.

Whirpool Corp. exhibited its most resource-efficient laundry pair at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show, the Duet washer and dryer. The pair exceeds government-efficiency standards, with a washer load that uses as little as 11.5 gallons of water and can exceed minimum U.S. energy standards by 160%. The Duet washer and dryer are built with 6th Sense technology, allowing the devices to sense and manage performance. A built-in suite of laundry apps provides added convenience for consumers, giving access to Stain Assist information on the device's LCD screen.
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 CompaƱia Tecno Industrial, both of which manufacture washing machines for regional markets.

The condensing dryer, or ventless dryer, is not a new technology; however, some appliance OEMs are refocusing their design efforts in hopes of reaching new markets among consumers in smaller living spaces. Condensing dryers do not require a vent or drain and therefore can be installed in various locations within a small living space, including a closet.

Water-less washing, a process that uses plastic chips in place of water to clean clothes, offers a significant opportunity for the laundry sector. The concept was first introduced by Stephen Burkinshaw, a U.K. university professor. Waterless washing would significantly reduce energy costs that come from the typical wash and drying process due to reduced volumes of water required per load. The predicted commercial laundry cost savings would exceed 30%.

More information is available in Appliance Industry Manufacturing Focus 2011: Commercial/Home Laundry located at http://www.appliancemagazine.com/marketresearch/index.php.

For more information on this report, contact Sandra Baker at +1-215-944-9836 or Sandra.Baker@ubm.com

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