Consumers in the Northwest once had little awareness of the benefits of energy-efficient clothes washers. With ENERGY STAR certified models commanding only two percent of the market in 1997, the region’s utilities came together to alter consumer behaviors and drive demand through targeted incentives, rebates and consumer awareness campaigns. As a result, highly efficient clothes washers became the new standard for manufacturers, retailers and consumers around the U.S.
Our incentive programs for manufacturers and retailers were early successes, increasing market share for efficient clothes washers to 20 percent by 2001. We introduced new programs in 2004 and 2006 to encourage utilities and manufacturers to offer consumers matching rebates for new purchases.
By 2006, market share for efficient clothes washers had reached 50 percent. Using this increase in market share as leverage, we worked with our partners to influence new federal standards for clothes washer efficiency and even higher ENERGY STAR specifications. Since the initiative began, we have continued working with ENERGY STAR to raise efficiency specifications multiple times, with three of the most stringent standards reaching 100 percent market share in 2011.
ENERGY STAR clothes washers now use 20 percent less energy and 35 percent less water than regular washers. The initiative exceeded its initial goals, achieving 41 aMW in co-created savings from 1997 to 2007 — enough to power 30,000 U.S. households each year. Funding for this initiative ended in 2007 after market barriers had been successfully removed.