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Whirlpool Planning ‘Smart’ Dryer Production

Benton Harbor, Mich. – Whirlpool plans to produce 1 million “intelligent”
clothes dryers by the end of 2011 that can save consumers money by responding
to changes in the power grid.

The Smart Energy products
will be able to turn their heating elements off during periods of peak energy
demand in response to signals from the smart grid – the next-generation electricity
network that can route power more efficiently by responding to shifts in supply
and demand.

The Whirlpool effort, part
of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Smart Grid Investment Grant program, could
save a typical consumer $20 to $40 per year in markets where utilities offer
variable or time-of-use pricing, the manufacturer said, while also benefitting
the environment.

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

Whirlpool, which created
and holds key patents for the sensor technology, conducted a smart-grid pilot
program three years ago in the Pacific Northwest
using 150 Smart Energy dryers. According to Whirlpool technology VP Hank Marcy,
power demand by the “intelligent” dryers was reduced by 95 percent with little
to no impact for consumers.

Whirlpool further plans
to make all of its electronically controlled appliances capable of receiving
and responding to signals from the smart grid by 2015. But it said its global commitment
is dependent on the development of an open, worldwide standard for signal transmission
by the end of 2010, and the creation of appropriate policies that reward
consumers, manufacturers and utilities for using these new peak demand
reduction capabilities.

Whirlpool calculated that the deployment of 1 million smart
grid-compatible dryers could shift the equivalent energy of 10 coal fired,
500-megawatt power plants, and will increase the value of renewable energy
sources such as solar and wind power, which are inherently variable due to

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 company said.