CES 2010 - Whirlpool's Upcoming Super Efficient Washer, Home Energy Monitor, and Super NOT Efficient Oven


Photos via Jaymi Heimbuch

This is Whirlpools's newest oven. It's the Jenn-Air 30, a high powered convection oven with a touch sceen panel that allows you to input what you're cooking, in what type of cooking dish, and how you'd like it to be cooked, and Voila! It cooks your meats, casseroles or cookies to perfection. So how much energy do you use to get better cookies without the skill? 6800 Watts. Did your heart stop a little bit? Yes, 6800 Watts is required to power the convection oven and all its features so that you can cook dinner. This isn't an oven we'd encourage people to use. But, Whirlpool also showed of a couple very cool new green products, including an exciting new home energy management system that is helping to herald in the new smart grid, and the prototype of a new washer and dryer that I do think we'll be recommending when it comes out. Before I checked out the prototype washer and dryer, I saw the home energy monitoring system that Direct Energy, Whirlpool Corporation, Best Buy, Lennox International and OpenPeak have all collaborated to create.


Image via OpenPeak

Launching a 1-year pilot program in Houston, Texas around April or May, the partners are hoping to find out a range of things about home energy use, such as how to help households minimize energy use, how the smart grid and home owners work together, and more importantly, how households use home energy monitors.

Designed by OpenPeak, the monitoring device does far more than just show energy use. In fact, that's not even highlighted on the device. Rather, think of it like a big iPhone, with an apps store, where energy monitoring and communication with the smart grid is incorporated.

The group feels that by integrating energy management into a devices that homeowners feel has other value - and on this you can watch youtube videos, sign on to facebook, play games, and so on - consumers won't be as likely to forget about or be overwhelmed by watching their electricity consumption. It's the same idea so many other developers are having, such as the Electronic Housekeeper which also integrates things like weather, news, and so on into a monitoring device.

The electricity monitoring section of the device actually didn't look all that intriguing. The group may need to spend more time on that app, rather than fancying up the device, so that the information provided to the user is more engaging and understandable in terms of the financial and environmental impact their energy consumption has.

It is intended to work with smart meters and be part of the move towards a smart grid, but I was told the group is also looking at how this can be used in homes that don't have smart meters or demand response rates with their utilities.

Now, on to that washer/dryer prototype.

I'm told that this Vantage Washer/Dryer set is going to be the industry's first top-load "super energy efficient" washer. I was not given numbers, unfortunately, so we're going to have to wait a bit to see if that's true. But it's a top-loading washer that has similar water efficiency as front-loading washers.

Even though we don't have numbers, it has some really interesting eco-features. The washer and dryer both have touchscreen monitors on which you can select specific cycles for your clothing, allowing you to wash clothes exactly as they should be washed so that they last longer. The dryer syncs up with the washer so it can detect exactly how damp your clothes are, dry for the appropriate time, and shut off when your clothes are dry - not just when the program says they ought to be, avoiding over-drying.

Also, the monitor shows you how energy and water efficient you've been with your cycle selection for each load, and over the course of a month. So at the end of each month, you can see how you can improve the way you wash your clothes to save energy and water. Pretty cool!

Interestingly enough, the press information given to me on this set doesn't discuss efficiency or these eco-features on the touch screen at all. Hummm...curious. No word yet on price points or actual numbers on efficiency, but as soon as they send them out, we'll let you know.

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Tags: Concepts & Prototypes | Electricity | Energy Efficiency