Whirlpool To Produce 1M 'Smart' Dryers by 2012

Whirlpool Corporation (NYSE: WHR) said it plans to produce one million "smart" clothes dryers by the end of 2011 as part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Smart Grid Investment Grant program.

The appliances will be manufactured in the U.S. and will be capable of reacting to signals from future smart grids by modifying their energy consumption to save consumers money on their home electric bills. In markets where utilities offer variable or time-of-use pricing, these dryers could save a typical consumer $20 to $40 per year, while also benefitting the environment, Whirlpool said.

Clothes dryers and refrigerators are generally the most energy-intensive devices in a home.

Whirlpool previously announced that by
2015 all of the company’s electronically controlled appliances it
produces will be capable of receiving and
responding to signals from smart grids. The company said this commitment is dependent
on two important public-private partnerships:

  • The development by
    the end of 2010 of an open, global standard for transmitting signals to
    and receiving signals from a home appliance
  • Appropriate
    policies that reward consumers, manufacturers and utilities for using
    and adding these new peak demand reduction capabilities.

"Peak electricity demand drives disproportionately higher energy costs," said Mike Todman, president, Whirlpool Corporation North America. "If the differences between peak and off-peak energy costs are passed along to consumers, then Whirlpool Corporation believes there are great opportunities for home appliances to shift energy consumption outside of peak hours without forcing consumers to compromise on performance."

Widespread deployment of smart appliances could also increase the value of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power, which are inherently variable due to weather. When wind- and solar-generated power availability is reduced, smart appliances will allow for the temporary reduction of energy consumption, helping to ensure reliable performance by the electrical grid even during periods of peak demand.

The deployment of one million smart grid-compatible dryers could shift the equivalent energy of 10 coal-fired, 500-megawatts power plants, according to Whirlpool’s estimates.

In 2006, Whirlpool conducted a smart-grid pilot, using 150 Smart Energy dryers in the Pacific Northwest.

"The pilot yielded remarkable results: when a grid sensor observed a peak demand event, the dryers turned their heating elements off, reducing their power demand by 95%, with little to no impact for consumers," said Hank Marcy, vice president, technology, Whirlpool Corporation.

Whirlpool Corporation is a leading manufacturer and marketer of major home appliances, with annual sales of approximately $19 billion in 2008, 70,000 employees, and 67 manufacturing and technology research centers around the world. The company markets Whirlpool, Maytag, KitchenAid, Jenn-Air, Amana, Brastemp, Consul, Bauknecht and other major brand names.

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