Coming Changes in the U.S. Clothes Washer Market

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Historically the U.S. market for clothes washers has consisted of top-loading, vertical-axis washers with an agitator. In recent years, two large U.S. manufacturers started building and selling horizontal-axis or tumble washers in the U.S. This change was prompted by anticipation of new energy efficiency standards for clothes washers. The change in U.S. Department of Energy minimum energy efficiency standard levels for clothes washers will take place in two stages, in years 2004 and in 2007. Technologies that will be used to meet these new standards include horizontal-axis washers, vertical-axis washers with a spray rinse, washers using lower wash temperatures, better temperature controls, adaptive load controls, and higher spin speeds. The introduction of more efficient clothes washers to the U.S. market may lead to greater similarities to European designs but will be tempered by preferences in features desired by the U.S. consumer. Typically clothes washers in the United States are larger and most consumers have matching clothes dryers. The test procedure for clothes washers will also change in 2004. The new test procedure will consider not only the energy to wash the clothes but also the amount of water remaining in the clothes after a spin dry cycle and therefore the energy needed to dry the clothes after they are removed from the washer. The new U.S. test procedure will not include a performance requirement or measurement.

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