If we build one,
they will buy it. That's the dream of Jeff Christian, director of the
Buildings Technology Center (BTC) User Facility at ORNL. BTC has been
involved in developing, evaluating, and promoting household appliances
and heating and air-conditioning equipment that are far more energy
efficient than what Americans are using today. If most Americans replace
their washing machines, refrigerators, water heaters, and air conditioners
with new, highly efficient ones by 2010, they will save energy and money
in the long run. Most important, from a carbon management point of view,
they will reduce power plant emissions of carbon to the air by almost
95 million metric tons per year (MMT/yr). That's the amount of carbon
emitted annually by nearly 20 million people (5 MMT/yr per person) or
by 56 1000-megawatt coal-fired power plants.
their appliances use 36% of the nation's energy," Christian says. "Buildings
are also responsible for 36% of U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide produced
by human activities. We have an opportunity to cut our energy consumption
and carbon emissions significantly through use of energy-efficient technologies."
One way to help
clean up our carbon emissions act is to buy and use new water-saving,
tumble-action clothes washers that incorporate a "horizontal-axis" design
rather than the conventional vertical agitator. Because this design
requires less water and, thus, has less water to heat, it saves energy.
In addition, its improved spin cycle cuts down time in the dryer, further
reducing energy use.
In 1997, the Department
of Energy and Maytag Corporation, the efficient machine's manufacturer,
selected 100 residents of Bern, Kansas (population: 200), to test the
new washer. Bern has an unreliable supply of well water when the weather
and his BTC colleagues in ORNL's Energy Division made measurements that
confirmed a reduction in water and energy use when the 100 residents
switched from old washers to the new, high-efficiency washers. The ORNL
researchers found that the residents used 56% less energy and 38% less
water, saving the town of Bern 640,000 gallons annually.
"If most U.S. households
change over to high-efficiency clothes washers by 2010," Christian says.
"U.S. carbon emissions will be reduced by 28 million metric tons of
carbon per year."
with Whirlpool, General Electric, Frigidaire, Amana, and Maytag through
cooperative research and development agreements, ORNL researchers led
by Ed Vineyard have been designing the next generation of popular refrigerator
models, to cut their energy use in half. By adding insulation and using
more efficient motors and compressors, the ORNL-industry partnership
has designed a 20-cubic-foot refrigerator that operates on only 0.93
kilowatt hours per day, using 53% less energy than the maximum allowed
by new DOE standards.
replaced their aging refrigerators with these new, efficient ones by
2010," Christian says, "they would use 58% less energy to chill their
foods and beverages and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 48 million
metric tons per year."
with Enviromaster International, Inc., Tomlinson and his ORNL colleagues
have developed a drop-in residential heat pump water heater. This highly
reliable device is more energy efficient than the conventional water
heater, which uses resistive heating. The new water heater, which will
soon be on the market, can be installed by a plumber at a low cost.
"If half of American
households replace their old water heaters with heat pump water heaters
by 2010," Christian says, "the energy used nationwide for home water
heating will be reduced by 0.6 quad and the amount of carbon emitted
will be decreased by 9 million metric tons per year."
savings can be made by replacing home air conditioners with a generator-absorber
heat exchanger (GAX) chiller (developed by private industry under the
guidance of ORNL researchers) and by insulating and sealing leaks in
heating and air-conditioning ducts to eliminate energy losses. The total
reduction in carbon emissions by 2010 if most households make these
changes will be 95 MMT/yr.
It is hoped that
Americans will buy into new energy-saving and money-saving technologies
that will reduce carbon emissions from buildings.
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Buildings Technology Center