March 9, 2011

To the New York Times: You Can Have Clean Clothes and Save Energy

In the New York Times column, “When Energy Efficiency Sullies the Environment,?? the author leaps to the unfounded conclusion that there is a choice to be made when washing your clothes: either wear clean clothes or save energy; but not both.  The facts do not support that.  The appliance industry has a long history of making energy efficient appliances that also offer optimal performance.  In fact, do not take our word for it, read the Consumer Reports Blog, which says the New York Times article’s “interpretation of Consumer Reports’ washer tests is misleading?? and "As an organization that tests both performance and energy efficiency, Consumer Reports has seen product performance improve or remain at high levels, while energy efficiency standards have become increasingly stringent over the years. Washing machine performance has actually improved while dishwashers and refrigerators performance has remained at high levels."

ClotheswasheriStockMedium Replacing an eight year old clothes washer with a new clothes washer of average efficiency will save the average household more than $130 in electricity costs per year, and will slash water usage by 5,000 gallons per year.  All this—and clean clothes! How can you go wrong?

The column, however, does foreshadow a real issue for the future in that we cannot blindly drive toward ever increasing efficiencies without considering performance. This balance is recognized by the appliance industry’s support for the ENERGY STAR program’s decision to couple soundly developed performance standards into future efficiency increases thereby ensuring that any future mandatory standards fully take into account the effect on product utility.

In addition, there is a pathway to efficiency gains that provide tremendous potential for saving energy and protecting the environment with no compromise of product performance, and that is through smart appliances that can automatically operate at a time of day when electricity prices are lower, to save consumers money on the utility bill, and reduce peak demand which would cut the number of wasteful, but necessary, peaker power plants around the country.

Consumers can purchase home appliances with confidence- knowing that modern appliances offer many more features and conveniences than yesterday’s white goods, and save significant amounts of energy. And just around the corner manufacturers will introduce smart grid enabled appliances that will provide creative new and innovative ways to cut energy use while offering maximum consumer benefits.

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