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By Maria Kanevsky

As homeowners are looking for new ways to save energy at home, there are many cutting-edge technologies currently being developed to improve the efficiency of your home.

Magnetic refrigerators

Refrigerators typically use a good deal of energy to properly cool your food. Reducing the amount of energy your refrigerator uses can help lower your home energy consumption. One emerging technology that can save energy is the magnetic refrigerator.

Most refrigerators use a traditional compressor to cool perishables, but magnetic refrigerators use a magnetic field as an innovative way to cool food. This is possible through a phenomenon called the magnetocaloric effect, which causes certain materials to cool down when a magnetic field is removed. This creates a more energy-efficient refrigerator, using approximately 30% less energy than traditional refrigerators.

Magnetic refrigerators also remove the need for harmful chemicals used in traditional refrigerants, making them more environmentally friendly.

There are a few magnetic refrigerators commercially available, however the market is still extremely limited. Researchers and universities are currently working to improve this technology, with the goal to make the commercial market for magnetic refrigerators more widespread.

Cool roofs

When temperatures are highest, having the right roofing material can make a huge impact on how much heat your home absorbs. Certain types of roofing reflect more sunlight than others, which can help to keep your home cooler, reducing the amount of air conditioning you’ll need. These “cool roofs” are specifically designed to absorb less heat and reflect more sunrays than traditional roofs.

Cool roofs are lighter in color and can use reflective paint, highly reflective tiles or a reflective sheet covering. There are several types of cool roofs commercially available, and choosing the right type partially depends on the steepness of your roof’s slope. Low-sloped roofs are better suited for reflective sheet membranes, while high-sloped roofs work better with reflective shingles and tiles. Although cool roofs can reduce heat, the overall heat savings you can achieve from roofing depends on home insulation, climate and a few additional factors.

Heat pump clothes dryer

If you’re looking to save energy in the laundry room, a heat pump clothes dryer can help reduce energy use by at least 28% compared to standard dryers. Instead of releasing warm and humid air through a vent outside the home, heat pump clothes dryers work by sending humid air through an evaporator that removes moisture without losing too much heat.

Heat pump dryers do not require outside ventilation like standard dryers, which is a major efficiency benefit. Additionally, since these dryers use lower temperatures, they are gentler on clothes. Several commercial brands like Whirlpool and Samsung sell ENERGY STAR®-certified heat pump dryers, and the cost typically ranges from $900 to $1,500 depending on additional features.  

Maria Kanevsky writes on consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

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