I spent some time today checking out home appliances at the ??hite goods?pavilions at the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin. The main thing that struck me, other than the fact that European major appliances are a lot smaller than their U.S. counterparts, reflecting smaller living spaces,is that the top marketing point for nearly everything is low power consumption. For dishwashers and clothes washers, low water use is also a big selling point.
In Europe, and Germany in particular, green is hot. In the http://blogs.businessweek.com/mt/mt.cgi?__mode=view&_type=entry&blog_id=15#U.S., there’s a lot of green rhetoric, but for the most part it is yet to manifest itself in major purchase decisions other than cars. Economics clearly play a role in the greening of Europe; electricity in Germany costs about 20 euro cents per kilowatt-hour, about three times the average U.S. price. But there is also a large political and ethical component to the passion for green products, and the willingness of consumers to pay more for less energy consumption.
Green consciousness is rising in the U.S., but even with rapid price increases, energy remains relatively cheap. I suspect it’s going to take regulatory action to push American to reduce their passion for energy consumption.