April 30, 2014 | Vol.54 N.18

Homeowners and Homebuilders See Value in 'Smart' Appliances

When you think of “smart technology,” you may think of your smartphone, tablet or vehicle, but soon, you may also think of such household appliances as your dishwasher, refrigerator or laundry pair.

Home building professionals nationwide increasingly are working with manufacturers to install smart appliances into new and remodeled homes, in light of new government standards, technology advances and a focus on energy efficiency.

“Smart appliances provide greater convenience, reduce energy consumption and help people live a more sustainable lifestyle,” says Maureen Sertich, North America sustainability lead at Whirlpool Corporation, which manufactures Whirlpool, Maytag, KitchenAid, Jenn-Air and Amana appliance brands. “These transformative technologies allow consumers to learn about their energy use and connect to their appliances online to actively manage their home’s energy consumption.”

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 13 percent of the energy used in a typical home can be attributed to just four common appliances -- the refrigerator, dishwasher, clothes washer, and clothes dryer.

But that will soon change, as leading companies take steps to improve upon energy efficient designs of these four appliances, with the added assistance of smart appliance technology.

For example, Whirlpool Corporation recently launched 6th Sense Live technology, which allows homeowners to control appliances from their computer or smartphone. For instance, homeowners can activate their washer’s fan for forgotten wet clothes; and the refrigerator will send a text message when the power supply has been disrupted so people can know if their food is safe to eat.

Smart appliances from these pioneering brands can also track energy consumption and connect to the “smart grid,” a modernized electric grid being rolled out nationwide that uses communications technology to more effectively manage electricity demand. This means that, with consumer permission, the appliance can respond to utility signals asking it to postpone or cutback operations when energy demand is high or more expensive.

This year, one of the nation’s largest production home builders, KB Home, is collaborating with Whirlpool Corporation to roll out these smart-grid ready appliances to all KB Home communities nationwide. More information on smart-grid-ready and sustainable appliances, can be found at www.SmartGrid.gov or www.Whirlpool.com.

Learning more about smart technology for your home can save you money and make your home more planet-friendly in the process.

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