Manager Connection: Popularity of Electric Appliances & Equipment Rise

By Syd Briggs,
General Manager

It was terrific to see the turnout for Steele-Waseca Cooperative Electric’s 86th Annual Meeting Tuesday, June 7, at the co-op’s headquarters in Owatonna.

With it being the first in-person annual meeting in three years, there was excitement in the air as members and guests were able to reunite with old acquaintances. Even with a snafu with the member registration cards, co-op employees and technology were flexible to accommodate members electing to utilize a drive-thru option.

For those of you unable to attend this year, mark your calendar, the co-op’s 87th annual meeting will be Tuesday, June 6, 2023.

As we continue to be amazed with the current impact of inflation in our country, our rates continue to hold steady at Steele-Waseca, and you may want to consider expanding your electric options in your way of life.

Electric appliances and equipment are becoming more popular than ever among consumers.

Advancements in technology and battery power coupled with decreasing costs are winning over consumers looking for comparable utility and versatility. A bonus is that use of electric equipment is quieter and better for the environment.

Inside the home, consumers and home builders alike are turning to electric appliances to increase energy efficiency and savings. Whether a traditional electric stove or an induction stove top, both are significantly more efficient than a gas oven. That’s because conventional residential cooking tops typically use gas or resistance heating elements to transfer energy with efficiencies of approximately 32% and 75% respectively, according to Energy Star®. Electric induction stoves, which cook food without any flame, will reduce indoor air pollution and can bring water to boil about twice as fast as a gas stove.
Robotic vacuums are also gaining in popularity. Fortune Business Insights attributes the growth and popularity of robotic vacuums like Roomba to a larger market trend of smart home technology and automation (think Alexa directing a Roomba to vacuum).

More tools and equipment with small gas-powered motors are being replaced with electric ones that include plug-in batteries. In the past few years, technology in battery storage has advanced significantly. Hand-held tools with plug-in batteries can hold a charge longer and offer the user the same versatility and similar functionality as gas-powered tools.

For DIYers and those in the building trades, national brands such as Makita, Ryobi, and Milwaukee offer electric versions of their most popular products like drills, saws, sanders, and other tools. In addition to standard offerings, consumers can now purchase a wider array of specialty tools that plug-in such as power inverters, air inflaters, and battery chargers.
Keith Dennis, an energy industry expert and president of the Beneficial Electrification League noted, “A few years back, the list of new electric product categories that were making their way to the market was limited—electric scooters, lawn mowers, leaf blowers and vehicles.” Today, the number of electric products available is exploding. “There are electric bikes, school buses, pressure washers, utility terrain vehicles, backhoes—even airplanes and boats,” said Dennis. “With the expansion of batteries and advancements in technology, we are seeing almost anything that burns gasoline or diesel as having an electric replacement available on the market.”

Electric equipment also requires less maintenance, and often the biggest task is keeping them charged. In addition, electric equipment is quieter so if you want to listen to music or your favorite podcast while performing outdoor work—you can; something that wouldn’t be possible with gas-powered equipment. On the horizon, autonomous lawn mowers, similar to the robotic vacuum cleaners, will be seen dotting outdoor spaces.

Another benefit of using electric appliances or equipment is that by virtue of being plugged into the grid, the environmental performance of electric devices improves over time. In essence, electricity is becoming cleaner through increases in renewable energy generation, so equipment that uses electricity will have a diminishing environmental impact over time. Quite the hat trick—improving efficiency, quality of life, and helping the environment.