New technology to save energy
by Robert Yang | Dec. 19, 2020
What if I told you there was new technology on the market that could help you reduce your energy use while doing laundry by 60 percent? Hard to believe, right? Well there is and our Customer Business Management Services (CBMS) team had a chance to check it out.
In late October, I decided to tag along and see a demo for a new type of dryer unit at a locally owned business that helps design dream interior spaces for clients — 87Zero. They reached out to our CBMS team to help verify if this new technology does indeed save 60 percent energy per use or if it was just hype. Since I do laundry twice a week, I also wanted to learn about it — just in case I wanted to switch out my dryer in the future. Plus, learning more ways to save energy never hurts.
“Anytime we hear about new energy-saving technology on the market, we want to learn more about it. Business customers are always asking us how they can save energy, so we always want to have up-to-date information available. This technology could really help our hospital, hotel and restaurant customers that do a lot of laundry,” said Alton Ramos, a customer business management consultant.
The dryer unit uses “heat pump technology.” Traditional dryers use electricity to heat up an oversized heating element, which heats the surrounding air in the unit. A heat pump dryer takes in the current air from the room and uses that to dry your clothes. Instead of a heating element, electricity powers pumps and a compressor to pressurize refrigerant liquid. As a result, the boiling refrigerant heats up a coil system through which passing air gets hot and re-enters the tumbler where the wet clothes are located. The cycle continues until your clothes are dry. The compressor uses little energy and the entire process is also remarkably quiet.
To test if this process was truly energy efficient, a CBMS member plugged the dryer into an Ibis InteliSockets device, which monitors individual energy performance. We washed a 10-pound comforter and put it through the drying process. From the device, we learned that the dryer fluctuated between 850–950 watts during use. Traditional dryers use 2,000–6,000 watts in comparison. While it’s not a perfect 60 percent savings, it’s still great news because in the best-case scenario, you save about 58 percent per use. In the worst-case scenario, you still save 53 percent.
There are many other benefits in using a heat pump dryer. As for me, I’ve noticed my traditional dryer releases hot air into the room when it’s done operating. However, a heat pump dryer runs the air through a cold coil before releasing it back into the room, which keeps your room cool after use. Any moisture from your wet clothes condensates into water and gets emptied into a drain pan, where you can choose to repurpose it or responsibly dispose it. No ducts are required, and the unit uses a 120v cable, which makes the dryer easy to install and flexible in placement.
Because this type of dryer features newer, energy-saving technology, you can expect to pay a premium upfront versus when you purchase a conventional dryer. The heat pump dryer and washer unit from 87Zero costs at least $2,400, whereas a conventional stackable unit that can be found at your local home improvement store can cost between $1,200 — $2,800. Of course, you recover the premium through energy savings on your bill over time.
It’s reassuring to know that there are more energy-saving options out there for customers. While I don’t need a new dryer now, I do laundry weekly so I know the day will come when my dryer breaks down. Mahalo to 87Zero for inviting us to your showroom to learn more about heat pump dryers so we can share this new technology with customers looking for new ways to save energy.
Robert Yang is a digital communications and social media specialist at Hawaiian Electric Company.