PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. -Sales of Energy Star energy-efficient major appliances increased 31 percent for the nine months spanning January 2000 through September 2000 over the comparable period last year, according to NPD Intelect Market Tracking.
To date, Energy Star dishwashers and air conditioners posted the biggest appliance increases overall this year, with both categories up 66 percent in unit sales.
Sales of washing machines with the Energy Star designation grew at a more modest 11 percent clip, although sales of non-designated units remained essentially flat. By contrast, energy-efficient refrigerators saw sales decline 5 percent.
Energy Star appliances command a premium price in an industry that is otherwise under increasing pricing pressure. According to NPD, Energy Star dishwashers are 7 percent pricier than average dishwashers; Energy Star air conditioners are 9 percent more expensive than their non-designated counterparts; and fully featured, energy-efficient washers such as Maytag's Neptune are priced 129 percent higher than regular machines.
Aside from the sales figures, consumers indicated a willingness to pay a premium for energy-efficient appliances in a series of NPD focus groups in which participants cited energy and water savings as the most important features when purchasing a washing machine.
Energy Star is a voluntary partnership consisting of the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, manufacturers, local utilities and retailers to promote energy-efficient products and educate consumers about their benefits.