A recent study from the University of Washington found that the average American home has only about 15% of the energy efficiency of the average Chinese home.
But the U.S. could be making strides to address this gap, with a new American home appliances startup that aims to bring the latest American home technologies to the Chinese market.
“American homes were designed to be energy efficient, but in the last few decades we’ve lost that ability,” said Kevin O’Connor, CEO of the American Home Appliance Corporation (AHAC), which he cofounded with his father in 2005.
“With the advent of technology, you have the ability to do things that you weren’t able to do 10 or 20 years ago.”
A lot of people don’t realize that, O’Connor said.
“There’s a huge amount of energy efficiency in the U of A, but the American home isn’t very energy efficient,” he said.
The AHAC is looking to bring a whole new set of American technology to China.
“We’re looking to offer energy efficient products that will be made in China, but also to offer products that we believe are more energy efficient and environmentally friendly,” O’Connors said.
American home products like thermostats and air conditioners, for example, are made in the United States, and the AHACs goal is to make American-made products, too.
The company has received funding from the US Department of Energy, the UBS Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Ford Foundation, and several universities, including Stanford University and the University in Shanghai.
The startup is still in the early stages of the company’s development.
It is working with a manufacturer to produce the first American-manufactured product, a thermostat with built-in heating and cooling features.
The product will be available for purchase in the spring of 2018.
O’ Connor and his father launched AHAC with an initial funding round from the Carnegie Foundation in 2014.
The venture has raised about $3.6 million, with more than $3 million coming from US investors and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
In addition to the thermostatic and air-conditioning product, the company also has plans to bring an electric vehicle charging station to China, which would allow its products to be sold in the Chinese marketplace.
American technology companies are also looking to enter the Chinese consumer electronics market.
Earlier this year, the US-based startup, PowerBionics, announced a partnership with China’s Huawei Technologies to build a smart home appliance called SmartHome.
The project is focused on the development of a home appliance for the elderly, but O’ Conners said the company is looking into other markets.
“It’s hard to get into China because they’re so competitive,” he explained.
The U.K.-based company, which O’ Connors founded, recently acquired a $1.2 billion valuation in a funding round led by China’s GIC Group.
The business has been able to make significant progress in China.
Last year, AHAC launched a pilot program in the Shanghai metropolitan area, with over 10,000 people using its thermostatically controlled home appliances.
The program was initially designed for those who are very comfortable with thermostatics, but over time, the technology has been adapted to meet more complex users, O Conners noted.
AHAC has also partnered with an electronics manufacturer, China-based Chinese manufacturer Tingling, to build an electric car charging station, and it has partnered with a solar panel manufacturer, in partnership with a Chinese company, to make a home automation system.
The American home energy efficiency industry is still relatively young, O Connor said, but it’s beginning to take off in China and is a growing market for the AHCA.