How do you do your laundry? Generally, people do it begrudgingly, but when NEEP thinks about laundry we see an opportunity. Especially when policies for clothes dryers lag behind other household appliances, there could be potentially large energy, financial, and carbon emission savings. Coupled with the fact that about 80% American households have dryers, those individual appliances can really add up. According to an NRDC report, if all of America's electric clothes dryers were updated to the most efficient models sold overseas, Americans would save about $4 billion worth of energy per year and about 16 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions. So let’s take a minute to think about our chores.
Heat Pump Clothes Dryers, much like other Heat Pump technologies (Air-Source and Water Heaters), use a small amount of energy to move heat from one location to another. Given the savings potential, ENERGY STAR launched a dryer’s product landing page which contains buying guidance information, product rebates, and a qualified product list. To-date, two heat pump dryers are making their debut in the North American arena. While several efficient dryers have qualified for the ENERGY STAR certification, both Heat Pump Dryers earned ENERGY STAR’s esteemed 2014 Emerging Technology Award.
Over the summer, the efficiency field was delightfully surprised with the announcement of LG's "EcoHybrid" Heat Pump Dryer. LG was the first to introduce a commercially available heat-pump into the US market. LG worked toward introducing its heat pump dryer technology to the U.S. market for more than three years. LG engineers had to adhere to U.S. consumer expectations while building a product capable of operating via heat pump. Unlike our European counterparts, North Americans have stricter demands (quick dry time, large drum capacity, etc.) and this is reflected in our energy-intensive dryers.
Subsequently in December, Whirlpool publicly announced the North American market introduction of their hybrid heat pump clothes dryer - HybridCare™. Compared to typical dryers that use large amounts of energy in the form of venting hot, moist air, this heat pump dryer is ventless and therefore uses a refrigeration system to dry and recycle the same air. Due to the ventless feature and energy efficiency, consumers may further reduce seasonal heating bills if they live in extreme climates where the ACs and heaters will not have to work as hard. Many Northeast and Mid-Atlantic programs are expected to provide strong support for these new and exciting technologies.
So how does America do its laundry? A recent NEEA report asked the same question, “What is the nature of household laundry loads and characterization of efficient technology”? The answers from these field tests can support proposed changes to the federal test procedures. But regardless of how people do their laundry, we anticipate that with the introduction of super-efficient options, North American consumers will be doing their laundry efficiently.