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Home appliances going green
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The first Bosch and Siemens (BSH) direct distribution store in China, which recently opened in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, has a corner dedicated to energy-saving and environmentally-friendly products.

"All our products in the store have a high standard of energy efficiency," said Roland Gerke, president and CEO of BSH Home Appliances (China) Co Ltd. "Since 1990 we have succeeded in cutting the average energy consumption of our appliances by more than 40 percent."

BSH, also known as simply as Siemens, also tries to conserve as much energy as possible at its production sites, said Gerke. Some BSH factories have cut their energy use by as much as 62 percent over the past eight years.

"Our overall investment on environmentally friendly measures is well over 100 million yuan over the past decade," he added.

BSH's efforts are part of a larger trend among home appliance companies and consumers in China, said Gerke.

"There are more consumers putting energy and waste efficiency alongside with performance, price and design as key factors in their buying decisions," he said.

China's home appliance industry is increasingly embracing gadgets that save more energy, said Chen Gang, deputy secretary-general of the China Household Appliances Association.

Companies such as Haier and Hisense have started to promote their electrical appliances by explaining how much energy they save.

Last year China's largest home appliance maker, Haier, used the Beijing Olympics to showcase over 60,000 of its green products at 37 Olympic venues in Beijing and Qingdao, Shandong province.

Haier Chairman Zhang Ruimin said some of the products used in the Beijing Olympics, such as solar powered air conditioners, feature the most advanced green technology available. The solar panel air conditioners do not depend on electricity to operate and use seawater instead of hydro fluorocarbons (HFC) as a natural cooler.

But some industry analysts said that most consumers may not to be willing to shell out for energy-saving home appliances, which typically cost several hundred yuan more than conventional appliances.

"We may have to wait until people become more mature in their consumption mindset," said Chen with the appliance association.

Many overseas home appliance companies are bringing green products to the Chinese market. The Brazilian company Embraco, which produces compressors for refrigerators, launched its EMC compressor in China last year. Refrigerators equipped with the product, which the company says is the most energy-efficient mini compressor in the world, only consume 0.3 kWh of electricity a day. A conventional refrigerator usually uses over 1 kWh of electricity a day.

China produced around 44 million fridges in 2007. If all had used Embraco's EMC compressors, the country could save 11.3 billion kWh of electricity a year, which would reduce coal consumption by 4.52 million tons, water use by 45.2 million tons and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 11.27 million tons, said Joao Lemos, general manager of Beijing Embraco Snowflake Compressor Co Ltd.

China is becoming an increasingly important market for Embraco and green products are a key part of tapping it, said Ernesto Heinzelmann, the company's president.

"We are committed to bringing more energy-efficient products to the market," said Heinzelmann.

(China Daily April 14, 2009)

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