Green Design: Appliance Workhorses
When it comes to household chores, there are two types of appliances that come to mind that get a lot of use—those used for cooking and laundry. I was recently thinking about how much we use appliances in my own home and it seems as though we are always baking and doing laundry. Knowing that these are the workhorses of any home I wanted to find out what options are available today for these appliances—specifically the most efficient options.
I spent a bit of time studying GE Appliances. I started with the traditional oven and then looked into convection and, finally, the Advantium Speedcook ovens. An electric oven with a 10-pass element can use up to 2,580 watts, while a convection oven uses only 1,300 watts and an Advantium uses as little as 950 watts. I’ll admit I have mixed emotions about convection ovens, and the Advantium somewhat blows my mind. But once I broke them down by features it all started making sense.
Traditional ovens bake and broil using electric elements which are located on the bottom and top of the oven respectively. A convection oven has a fan that circulates the heat creating a constant temperature within the entire oven. This means no more worrying which rack you put the cookies on. And since the air is circulating, giving you even heat distribution, your cooking time is not only reduced by 30 percent, you save up to 20 percent of energy by cooking food faster and at a lower temperature.
Advantium ovens take it up one more notch. Not only is this a convection oven, but it is also a broiler, microwave, and a speedcooker! The Advantium uses radiant heat created by halogen bulbs so there is no need for lengthy preheating since halogen heat is nearly instantaneous. The best thing about the Advantium technology is that cooking time is greatly reduced. Where the conventional oven takes 20 minutes to bake chocolate chip cookies, the advantium has them ready for you in 7.5 minutes.
Everyone has dirty laundry and in many homes the washer and dryer are used daily. With such heavy use, it’s critical that these appliances are equipped with energy saving options that are practically a given for the ever-growing “green movement.”
Energy Star washers and dryers are equipped to use 50 percent less water and energy than older models for each load of laundry. Some front loading models will use even less, up to 64 percent less water and 75 percent less energy. All this is accomplished with technology such as load-sensing filling, in which the washer measures dry clothes and adds only the necessary amount of water needed to clean, as well as moisture sensors in the dryer that stops drying once the machine detects the dryness of the clothes.
But recently top loading washers have gone through an energy saving overhaul as well. These machines have been redesigned to be smarter, eco-friendly machines that accommodate anything a family can throw in them. Large load capability is perfect for family-sized loads as well as king sized items. And long gone are the days of the central agitator and completely filling the machine basin with water. Now the top load washer uses an innovative, gentle, recirculating, waterfall-washing action that measures the exact amount of water needed based on clothing load. Rinse cycles are now a “showering” cycle rather than, once again, filling the large basin full of water. And to make the machine’s efficiency even more load-specific, multiple wash cycle choices are available for items such as jeans, towels, or sheets.
What are the workhorse appliances in your home? If one of them is faltering, perhaps you have an upcoming opportunity to make environmentally-conscience appliance choices that save money and add efficiency to your daily chores as well.
—By Jennefer Guthrie
Editor’s Note: Jennefer Guthrie is a LEED accredited professional and a member of Middle Tennessee Chapter of USGBC (United States Green Building Council).Beth Haley Design, an urban interior design firm, focuses on remodeling and revitalizing established homes, as well as creating stimulating, functional, sustainable spaces in new homes. Jennefer Guthrie is an allied member of ASID (American Society of Interior Designers). E-mail your questions to her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit