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The energy-efficient home

As home appliance manufacturers clamour to develop energy-saving and environment-friendly devices, the industry is not only growing but also turning green

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GN Focus

When consulting and research firm Lucintel analysed the home appliances industry late last year, it predicted nothing but growth. The report, Global Household Appliance Industry 2012-2017: Trend, Profit and Forecast Analysis, says the industry will experience a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 6.1 per cent over the next five years, with revenue reaching an estimated $384 billion (about Dh1.4 trillion) by 2017. Refrigeration will witness the highest growth, while cooking appliances also see healthy growth.

Statistics giant Statista Inc. says that the global demand for home appliances has been consistently increasing, and predicts that its value will touch $600 million by the end of this year.

The home appliance sector is crowded with multiple products that cover cooking, refrigeration, laundry, home comfort, and personal care. Manufacturing is capital-intensive and the industry continues to fragment as thousands of players compete to hold on to their market positions. But despite these factors, favourable demographics, rising consumer incomes, and changing lifestyles are expected to drive the industry ahead. Across all societies and segments, green appliances are spearheading growth.

Growth trends

According to Lucintel, the Asia-Pacific region — led by South Korea, China, India and Hong Kong — is expected to grow at the highest rate because of its fast-growing middle class, skilled manpower, and stable market-oriented economies. In China, government subsidies for households to buy appliances are anticipated to boost sales, while the Indian industry is expected to grow on the back of cheaper prices.

Since June 2009, the Chinese government has spearheaded several programmes to bring markets to manufacturers, benefits to consumers, and energy conservation and emission reduction measures to society. According to a January report in the website China Economic Net, a new plan will focus on promoting 77 million units of energy-saving home appliances including air conditioners, flat-screen TVs, refrigerators, washing machines and water heaters. The government plans to spend RMB36.3 billion (about Dh21.3 billion), which in effect will boost consumption demand of about RMB450 billion and save about 12 million tons of standard coal.

The China story

Chinese manufacturers have responded well. Gree Electric Appliances is at the forefront of research and accelerated technology in variable frequency air conditioners, thereby reducing costs and increasing market share. Changhong has made several technology breakthroughs resulting in an array of green products for kitchens and bathrooms. China’s home appliance industry has also rid itself of ozone-depleting materials and adopted environment-friendly natural materials to great acclaim from the international community.

Haier retained its place as the world’s leading manufacturer of major appliances and white goods in 2012, according to Euromonitor International, commanding 8.6 per cent of the total global retail volume, and registering a growth of 0.8 per cent over 2011. The company has long attached significance to innovation, and currently holds 7,000 patented technology certificates and 589 software intellectual property rights.

In February, Toshiba Corporation acquired privately held Consert Inc., an intelligent energy management company that converts electric consumption in homes into cost-effective clean sources of capacity and energy reserves for utilities. Panasonic Marketing Middle East and Africa is pursuing a global vision of becoming the world’s leading green innovation company by 2018, and is doing much towards this end, especially in Saudi Arabia.

New product lines

Looking at products, although the waterless washing machine is still a dream, many leading brands offer eco-friendly options, especially Whirlpool’s Green Generation series. The ones to applaud are the Hoover Dynamic 10+ Steam with its 10kg drum for large washes, the Triple A-rated LG F1479FDS6 with its steam generator that eliminates 99 per cent of allergens, and the Samsung Eco Bubble that washes clothes at a mere 15 degrees, and 40 times faster.

In television, Sony’s Bravia series uses 40 per cent less energy than other LCDs, and include a sensor that turns the screen off when no motion is detected. LG Electronics announced at January’s International Consumer Electronics Show that it would begin delivering its highly anticipated next-generation organic light-emitting diode television (OLED) TV, later this month.

Thanks to sensor technology, the latest generation of dishwashers use much less water per load than hand washing, but it is worth noting that Bosch’s Ascenta exceeds Energy Star standards by 36 per cent.

Most new generation refrigerators use hydrocarbons in lieu of the banned chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), but Siemens also use recyclable plastics in many of their models and Danish firm Vestfrost’s ECO-Fridge is made entirely from recycled materials. Sun Frost provides some of the world’s best models of very low energy refrigerators. The new Samsung T9000 refrigerator, with its built-in Android tablet, was unveiled this month at the European Forum in Monaco. The refrigerator will help users keep track of ingredients and order groceries, and also act as a baby monitor using built-in cameras.