More than half of consumers currently use Energy Star-rated major appliances, a new report by The NPD Group revealed, and another 16 percent plan to use them in the future.
According to the market research group's study, Green 2008: Consumer Attitudes and Behaviors, more than half of consumers surveyed consider themselves extremely or very interested in environmentally friendly products.
Women, who tend to make households' majap purchasing decisions, appeared to have a stronger interest in "green" products than men (57 percent vs. 47 percent).
In addition, women are significantly more likely to purchase environmentally friendly products and more likely to be willing to pay a higher price for them, NPD said.
Energy Star-rated appliances were the third most used "green" products cited by consumers, following only recycled products (65 percent) and compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) bulbs (64 percent). This suggests that consumers place an emphasis on environmentally friendly versions of products that seem to offer an immediate return on their investment.
"In a struggling economy, those products marketed as being environmentally friendly and saving consumers money will be the products that stand the best chance of growth in the long run," said Mark Delany, director of NPD's home division.
Whirlpool, the world's largest majap maker, concurs with that assessment and has taken steps to bring energy efficient features found in front load washers to the traditional top load configuration, which is still found in nearly 75 percent of American households.
"Whirlpool research shows that 59 percent of consumers list water and energy savings as primary washing machine purchase drivers," said Ellen Taaffe, the manufacturer's mass brands VP. What's more, according to the Home Improvement Research Institute, 78 percent of homeowners are interested in home improvements that will reduce household energy costs or utility bills.
"Whirlpool put our best product development teams and home economists to work on infusing efficiency features found in front loaders into top loaders," she said. "By creating new [high-efficiency] washers and offering Energy Star-qualified models in platforms consumers are comfortable with, we appeal to evolving needs and have seen an increase in our top load portfolio share, with Maytag and Whirlpool brand leading the way."
The company said its "full portfolio approach," which provides laundry options at price points for every income level, has given it a leading 20.7 percent share of the top-load category in the third quarter of 2008, up nearly 5 percentage points from the year-ago period, according to The Stevenson Company's TraQline data.
During the quarter, Maytag brand introduced the 4.7-cubic-foot-capacity Bravos washer, which qualifies at the highest energy-efficiency level in the industry (CEE Tier III) and currently found only in front load machines, the manufacturer said, delivering 70 percent water and 67 percent energy savings.
Whirlpool has also updated its Energy Star-qualified "Classic" top-load washer, which can reportedly save up to 250 gallons of water per week, with a new garnet red color option.