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Field Test Protocol Paves the Way for Accurate Testing of Super Efficient Clothes Dryers

27-Jun-2014

A new field test protocol developed by the Super Efficient Dryer Initiative (SEDI), through support from CLASP, will enable utilities across the United States to more accurately measure energy consumed by clothes dryers, facilitating the development of financial subsidies that will make new, energy efficient models more affordable for consumers.  

Since 2010, SEDI has been working to introduce super-efficient clothes dryers into North America. These popular home appliances cost US consumers about $9 billion every year and account for about 6% of residential electricity consumption. By conducting technical research and facilitating collaboration among US manufacturers, utilities, government agencies, and retailers, SEDI is making it easier for clothes dryers to be tested, regulated, and subsidized, paving the way for the entrance of new, highly efficient clothes dryers to enter the market.   Preliminary research shows that clothes dryers using heat pump technology are 50-60% more energy efficient than traditional electric dryers, offering substantial energy and cost savings to the US. 

In addition to supporting utility incentive programs, this test protocol will give US policymakers the information they need to develop improved test procedures that more accurately reflect real world energy usage, and new federal minimum energy performance standards that capture greater energy savings. The US Department of Energy plans to revise its dryer test procedure in 2015, and the first super-efficient heat pump clothes dryer will be introduced into the US market later this year.

About the Field Test Protocol

In order to develop incentive programs for new dryers, utilities require accurate measurements of dryer energy consumption and energy savings. This can prove challenging because dryer energy consumption is dependent on many variables, including clothing composition, user behavior, and mechanical components such as insulation, automatic termination, and heat source.

Given these challenges, field test data based on actual consumer usage will provide utilities and other stakeholders with the most accurate estimates of clothes dryer energy performance, as well as a better understanding of consumer behavior. Drawing on a previous field study by the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA), SEDI developed the following field test protocol to promote a standardized data collection process, resulting in comparable data from a wide variety of locations that multiple utilities can share and use as a baseline for incentive programs. The collective use of this protocol by many utilities will achieve a sample size that is more nationally representative of how dryers are used. It will also provide utilities and manufactures a means to assess how combined washer/dryer pairs can achieve optimal energy savings while still meeting consumer expectations. 

The test protocol contains data acquisition methods for both domestic washers and dryers designed and sold for use in residences, but may be used for public laundromats and multi-family building laundry rooms, which use similar equipment. Specifically, it provides guidance on research approach, participant selection, duration and timing, data collection, and data recording, as well as additional guidance on what data should be collected and what equipment should be used. Furthermore, the protocol provides detail on the equipment used in NEEA’s field study and the templates used for data collection, as well as a template for uniform data recording.  

SEDI would like to thank NEEA for its support in preparing this field research protocol. Their initial work on clothes dryer field research led to the experimental design co-developed with Ecotope and served as a model for the described protocol.