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A new study by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) shows that consumers can save money for themselves and communities may reduce the need for costly new power plants and water supplies if Americans switch to water- and energy-efficient clothes washers, dishwashers and clothes dryers.
The study demonstrates that communities and consumers seeking water and electricity savings should look to the kitchen or laundry rooms in their homes. When consumers in the study switched to a combination of the front-loading washer, a water and energy-efficient dishwasher and an energy-efficient clothes dryer, they attained a 38 percent reduction in water consumption and a 37 percent reduction in electricity. The study used Frigidaire-brand appliances provided by Electrolux Home Products.
These savings represent promising areas for consumers strapped by rising utility bills and cities and states dealing with providing adequate electricity and water.
The study of actual home appliance use, part of DOE's national energy conservation initiative, was conducted in 50 volunteer homes in Wilsonville and Lafayette, Ore. by DOE's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
"The numbers in this study speak for themselves," said Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham. "Based on our estimates, a typical family with a home more than a decade old could save $200 per year in electricity and water bills, and 18,600 gallons of water, by switching to highly energy and water efficient appliances. A family in a newer home would save slightly less, because of the more efficient equipment already installed in its home. If every American household installed these products, the annual water savings would equal the average flow of the Mississippi River into the Gulf of Mexico for five entire days."
The potential savings are so great that, if all California residents replaced their clothes washers, dryers and dishwashers with highly efficient models such as the Frigidaire products used in the study, the total savings could amount to nearly 50 percent of the electricity used each year by all Los Angeles County households. The water savings could total the amount of water used by all households in the Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District.
As part of the study, Frigidaire provided 25 sets of its front-loading clothes washer, its Precision Wash dishwashers and its latest clothes dryers to homeowners in two different water-strapped communities outside Portland, Ore. Combined, the in-home comparison test against the families' previous appliances showed the front-loading washer used 39 percent less water and an enormous 68 percent less electricity than the standard washers they replaced. The Frigidaire dishwashers used 39 percent less water and energy than the standard products they replaced. Consumers benefited by annualized savings of 7,180 gallons of water per household and the equivalent of about an average month's electricity (840 kWh) by switching to the more efficient appliances.
Electrolux Home Products' Frigidaire brand was a major partner along with the U.S. Department of Energy in the Save Water and Energy Education Program (SWEEP). Twenty-five homes built before 1992 in each of the water-strapped cities of Wilsonville and Lafayette, Ore., outside Portland, replaced their existing clothes washers, dryers and dishwashers with high-efficiency models provided by Frigidaire. The Energy Department's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory scientifically measured the actual home use of the original and high-efficiency appliances to determine the savings that could be obtained by individual households -- as well as the potential community impact that could result from the high-efficiency Frigidaire appliances.
"Not only do these results mean good news for consumers who want to lower their energy and water bills," said Jay Penney, vice president of Electrolux Home Products, "they also mean less stress on communities that are facing increased demands for water and power. Increased use of such efficient appliances could also reduce the need for water treatment and new power plants, thereby saving money and reducing pollution-and hold down utility rates.
According to the DOE study, when the aggregated annualized savings from the new Frigidaire washer, dryer and dishwasher resulted in enough energy and water to provide the average SWEEP home with 250 free clothes washings, 110 free "dish washings" and enough electricity savings left over to run an energy-efficient refrigerator all year.