10 July 2008

"Hyper-efficient" appliances are three to five years away

According to Thomas W. Reddoch, a director at the Electric Power Research Institute, current technology applied to major appliances can only achieve energy savings in the seven percent to eleven percent range -- not very impressive. But on the near horizon is an array of innovations that will yield savings in the 30 percent to 40 percent range.

Here are some new products to look for in the next three to five years:
  • Heat pump water heaters will draw heat from the air or the ground to warm water.
  • Combined single unit washer/driers.
  • Smart refrigerators.
Of these, look for the heat pump water heaters first, says Reddoch. These require a tank, unlike "tankless" products, but are more energy efficient because they do not require a big "surge" to heat water fast on demand.

Although many consumers will be reluctant to abandon their perfectly-serviceable-but energy-wasteful appliances, building codes will ensure that newly constructed homes have them, and as energy prices rise, the pressure on consumers to convert will increase.

Reddoch spoke at a lunch panel discussion held today.

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