Everything must have eco credentials these days, and the domestic kitchen appliance sector is no exception. In fact, this is one area where technology has really taken off, allowing us to cook, cool and clean with a clear conscience.
“In terms of ecological advancements and environmental breakthroughs,” says Matt Jinks, commercial director for LSY (the company selling the GE and V-ZUG brands), “the UK appliance market is experiencing steady growth and so thankfully looks promising.”
Siemens’ brand manager Jane Massey agrees, “Customers need to be aware that they should be replacing their current kitchen equipment with highly efficient A or A+ rated models – especially if the appliances are over five years old – as these are the main energy guzzling culprits.”
What the retailer must do then, is highlight the fact that whilst they are saving valuable energy and water with their new eco-efficient appliance, the customer will also make long-term savings with lower running costs.
Guy Weaver, chief executive of Premium Appliance Brands, confirms that, “Thanks to energy labelling, it has become easier for consumers to identify more environmentally friendly products, with AAA rated dishwashers, fridge freezers and washing machines continuing to enjoy increased popularity for some time. As well as talking about the benefits for the planet, highlighting the longer term cost savings over time due to reduced energy bills is the best way to convince consumers that the slightly more expensive AAA appliances are a worthwhile purchase.”
But how does this translate to the shop floor? We asked a couple of independents for their views, and our findings were certainly encouraging. For Ivan Spencer, owner of Sherringham Kitchens in Stanford-Le-Hope, his customers specifically look for the energy labels on appliances and even ask for extra eco functions on washing machines. Nick Heater, owner of Dorking Domestic Appliances, confirms that his customers also come into the store fully clued up on energy labelling. “Our customers demand A rated appliances,” he says, “and it’s one of the first questions they ask. They also look for dishwashers that use less water than standard models as well as economy programmes on washing machines.”
When it comes to washing machines, the most efficient wash programmes use the least amount of water per cycle. Ray Isted, Whirlpool’s brand marketing manager, confirms that many of Whirlpool’s products feature unique 6th Sense technology, which promotes energy efficiency as the appliance adapts the cycle according to the user’s needs. “This optimises the use of water and energy,” he says, “whilst maintaining high levels of performance. In fact, 6th Sense can generate up to 30% energy savings.” The AWO/D AS148 AquaSteam also includes an automatic half load option, which allows you to run a smaller load without worrying about water wastage. It also has a SuperEco programme, which uses an extended cycle time to avoid raising the programme’s temperature and consuming excessive energy.
Maytag’s MAF2002AES washer not only looks stunning with its minimalist fascia design, but it also has an electronic control that ensures only the exact amount of water is used for each wash. “This is a great opportunity for retailers,” says channel director Julie Blaylock. “The Maytag 60 Series is designed and engineered to last longer and save our finite resources. Retailers can enhance their reputation as responsible retailers, offering consumers the opportunity to purchase an efficient, performance-driven washing machine that will provide long-term benefits and offer a financial return on their investment.”
For Hotpoint, check out the Aqualtis washing machine which has an A+ energy rating and eco feedback along with a mini load cycle that washes smaller loads, saving up to 25% water and 40% energy compared to a full load. The Aquarius and Aquarius+ range also features three dedicated eco cycles that have been developed in partnership with Ariel. Confirms Hotpoint communications manager Lisa Curran, “The three new cycles include cottons, synthetics and a fast wash and can save the consumer up to 50% energy compared with a normal 30º cycle.”
The most recent addition to Siemens’ laundry range is the WT46W560GB condenser dryer, which uses 40% less electricity and is A rated for energy. Meanwhile for David Oh, general product manager for LG major domestic appliances, steam technology has been the biggest eco development in the laundry sector, “Steam has been proven to reduce water and energy consumption while intelligent washing can detect the exact weight of the load and automatically determine the programme length and amount of water needed, saving time, energy and water.”
Indesit’s A rated integrated washer dryer, the IWDE12, was nominated as a Which? Best Buy in the October 2008 issue due to its 4.5kg wash and dry capacity, while Miele’s washers are some of the most efficient on the market. “For the most ecological use of detergent,” explains Miele laundry product manager Stefan Pichetta, “consumers can choose our automatic liquid detergent dispensing system, a feature of the W4449WPS, which dispenses precisely the correct amount of detergent according to the level of soiling and size of load. Not only does this offer convenience, but it also reduces detergent use which can be harmful to the environment.”
If customers are worried about energy guzzling tumble dryers, then V-ZUG’s A+ rated Adora TSL WP should dispel any concerns.
The main eco heroes of the cooking sector are the latest generation of built-in ovens and the induction hob. “Induction is fast,” explains Steve Dickson, marketing manager for Stoves, “it powers up instantly and switches off immediately. If you turn on the cooking zone without a pan on top, nothing will happen, making it the safest and most energy efficient way to cook. A new breed of ovens meanwhile such as Stoves’ Genus can reduce cooking times by up to four times compared to conventional ovens.”
New to Indesit’s portfolio are the A rated FIE76PKA pyrolytic self cleaning oven and VIA640C induction hob, both of which combine energy efficiency with innovative technology and modern design to offer consumers a variety of time-saving benefits such as fast cooking programmes and high performing heat zones.
De Dietrich has recently launched the first truly zoneless induction hob. The DTi853X is a 65cm hob that will accommodate a number of pans or one larger casserole or fish kettle, thus offering the utmost freedom for the customer.
On the range cooker front, Falcon has produced the first single cavity range cooker that can be used as a single or double oven. The 900S will appeal to keen cooks who want to become more energy efficient in their kitchens without sacrificing performance or style. It works by simply inserting an energy-saving panel into the oven cavity to reduce it by half. For customers who want the power of a range with an energy-efficient hob, Rangemaster’s Classic Induction is an A rated range cooker with induction top.
European brand Amica offers a range of built-in and freestanding cooking appliances, all with A energy ratings. These include the 163.4Tk multifunction oven with rapid heat mode and the 60cm and 77cm frameless induction hobs made from Schott ceramic glass, the most environmentally friendly ceramic glass producer. Gorenje is another European manufacturer who takes its eco credentials very seriously. Its green portfolio starts right at the beginning, with eco-friendly solutions at every stage of design, manufacture and delivery.
Fridge freezers need to be switched on 24/7 and as such, it’s vital that their energy usage is low. All the main players now offer A or A+ rated models with a variety of new technologies taking their
eco credentials even further.
Indesit’s A+ Iridium is frost free with digital display for temperature control at the touch of a button. Hotpoint’s A rated Quadrio meanwhile is a 70cm wide three-door appliance that saves up to 50% energy compared to a standard two-door fridge freezer.
For Fisher & Paykel, intelligence is key. “The Active Smart intelligence refrigerators continually monitor and adjust the flow of cold air to both the fridge and freezer compartment,” explains general manager for UK & Europe Richard Bowe, “ensuring a constant temperature throughout. This way less energy is used.
Refrigeration specialist Liebherr prides itself on being at the forefront of eco technology with temperature and humidity controlled BioFresh drawers that keep fruit, fish, meat and dairy for longer while reducing C02 emissions. Their fridges are also fitted with LED lights, which use less energy and give off very little heat.
Beko has also launched two new innovative cooling models. The RAP614 55cm undercounter fridge is A+ rated, saving 25% on energy compared to A rated models, while the matching ZA635F frost-free freezer is the only 55cm model on the market, making it ideal for smaller kitchens.
To boost sales, retailers should highlight the fact that an A or A+ rated refrigerator can save the customer around £40 a year in electricity and with energy bills increasing all the time, this is one issue that they can use to their advantage.
“It’s in the dishwasher market that Smeg has unveiled its latest eco credentials,” explains Joan Fraser, Smeg UK’s National sales support manager, “with appliances that don’t just achieve a triple A rating for energy, wash and drying, but also feature technological advances for further energy efficiency.” The Save+ option will reduce energy consumption by 10% compared to a standard A class dishwasher, while Quick Time uses higher temperatures with an intense spray action to reduce the length of the cycle by up to 55%.”
Customers may enquire about water consumption. Siemens’ dishwashers use 12 litres of water per cycle – even on their 14 place setting models – while the latest one from Bosch use only 10 litres for its 14 place setting version. “In fact,” says Bosch brand manager Ken Humphrey, “that’s 73 pieces of crockery and 88 items of cutlery.” Certainly an impressive piece of information to tempt the customer.
However, many consumers still believe that washing up by hand is more economical when in fact dishwashers have always been more energy and water efficient. “While the UK market for dishwashers is growing,” explains Richard Walker, sales and marketing director for De Dietrich, “penetration is still far lower than in the rest of Europe, where a dishwasher is a must-have because it’s convenient and exceptionally environmentally friendly. A dishwasher uses less energy to heat water than running the hot water tap, it uses less water than washing up by hand and delivers better results.” Its Quattro model is an AAA rated two-drawer dishwasher with four separate modes of washing as well as intelligent sensors that assess how dirty the dishes are and automatically determine the optimum programme, amount of water and detergent required.
Julie Blaylock, channel director for Maytag, believes that there’s never been a better time to sell a dishwasher. Their top of the range model, the Vara 860, uses just 9.9 litres of water, while Whirlpool’s ADP8800 AquaSteam dishwasher adds steam to the cycle to gently loosen food particles, reducing the need for pre-soaking.
There’s also scope to highlight the eco benefits of hand-held vacuums, too. Black & Decker has launched the Eco Extreme Dustbuster, which uses 66% less charging energy than a standard hand vac and is Energy Star approved. What’s more, it’s 100% recyclable and even the outer box and manual are made from recycled material.
A recent report by Electrolux indicates that around 68% of people in the UK want their appliances to be environmentally friendly. It also states that 59% compare energy ratings before buying, so it’s clear that green appliances are the way to go. “Sales training plays a big role here,” says Nicky Schofield, trade marketing manager for Electrolux. “We can give retailers facts and figures that show just what savings can be made by opting for energy and water efficient appliances. Electrolux has also launched other initiatives like the eco-savings campaign, which highlights in a clear and visual way online how consumers can save money and the environment by getting rid of their 10 year old plus appliances and replacing them with modern, efficient models that use up to 70% less energy.