For those of you that have always dreamed of living like the Jetsons, you’ll soon get your chance. General Electric (GE) announced on December 14, 2009 that it will begin manufacturing high-end energy efficient front-load washers and dryers at its Appliance Park facility in Louisville, Kentucky, beginning in 2012. Referred to as “smart” appliances, they have the ability to talk to other appliances and communicate with the electricity grid. Production of the laundry units is the second new product platform to be introduced in Louisville this year. The first was the GE Hybrid Water Heater, which is GE’s first commercially available smart-grid enabled product. Slated for production in mid-2011, the hybrid water heaters will save consumers approximately $320 annually.
These products take energy efficiency one step further at a time when many Americans are facing increasing electricity costs, while still experiencing the hardships of the recession. Given the fact that about half of a typical home’s electricity consumption goes to power appliances, lighting, and water heating, smarter appliances will save families money and shrink their personal carbon footprint. For most utilities, electricity demand peaks between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m., when people come home from work, cook dinner, wash clothes, run the dishwasher and flick on their big screen televisions.
Although this can put a strain on the electric utilities, the consumer isn’t typically impacted since most people pay the same flat electricity rate regardless of what it costs the utility to meet peak demand. That, however, could all change. The deployment of smart electricity meters will allow utilities to impose variable or time-of-day pricing, which means it’s going to get pricey to run the washing machine at 5 p.m.
GE’s new laundry products will incorporate smart grid technology that enables them to communicate with utility smart meters to help reduce energy demand during peak usage times with features that will empower consumers to control consumption and save money, especially in areas where time of use pricing is currently in effect or is planned in the future.
GE’s new innovative efficiency technology will enable the smarter laundry products to meet the proposed new 2014 Energy Star standards. Production of GE’s new smart washers and dryers alone will result in the creation of more than 430 new jobs at the Louisville operation. This is great news for many Americans, since currently 90 percent of GE’s front-load washers and dryers are manufactured outside the U.S.
Over a period of less than six months, GE plans to invest more than $150 million to bring these new product lines to Louisville, expanding its workforce by more than 800 jobs and creating millions of dollars of positive economic impact for the state of Kentucky. These good paying jobs are part of an emerging “green technology” sector that holds promise for the new green economy.