The adoption of sustainable laundry technologies by US consumers

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Abstract

The adoption of sustainable laundry technologies by US consumers has lagged behind that of other countries and even behind the projections for adoption made by the US government. Most US household currently own and use the top-loading vertical axis (v-axis) agitator type washers, which use large amounts of water as well as additional energy to heat the water. More sustainable laundry practices include the use of energy- and water-efficient front-loading horizontal-axis (h-axis) washers. These washers have been demonstrated to use 38% less water and 58% less energy than the standard top-loading v-axis models. The adoption of more energy-efficient washing technologies is of interest to many, including policy makers, because of their water- and energy-saving potential. Little is known about the attributes and issues consumers use in their decision to adopt high-efficiency washers for their home.

This study uses Roger’s Diffusion of Innovations Theory to understand the adoption of h-axis washers by US consumers. An online survey of 330 consumers who own washing machines found that 23% currently own h-axis washers and 24% of consumers intend to purchase an h-axis when they replace their top-loading vertical (v-axis) washers. Energy and water savings are the most frequently cited reasons overall for adopting the h-axis washer and cost was the main reason for not adopting the technology. Other issues, such as dissatisfaction with cleaning power and problems with machine cleanliness and maintenance, did not play a major role in adoption. Specific marketing and education channels, where US consumers are looking for information about h-axis washers, are also identified. Overall, the results suggest that the rate of h-axis adoption in the US is accelerating, but that many of the benefits of the technology are not easily observed by non-owners

 

Hustvedt, G., Ahn, M. and Emmel, J. (2013) The adoption of sustainable laundry technologies by US consumers. International Journal of Consumer Studies. 37(3): 291-­298.