Energy-suckers like laundry machines and dishwashers are often the first household objects that come to mind when we think of appliances that should be replaced for the sake of energy efficiency. But vacuum cleaners? Intuitively, it seems like a more efficient vacuum would have to sacrifice power. Companies like Electrolux have proven  that consumers don't necessarily have to give up efficiency for performance, but now Cambridge Consultants  claims that it has developed what might be "the world's most eco-friendly vacuum cleaner."
Dubbed "Stem", the vacuum cleaner uses 43% less energy than an average vacuum, but maintains the same performance. It also offers a 27% environmental impact reduction (everything from a reduction in materials used and more recycled materials to energy use over the product's lifetime) compared to today's vacuums. Cambridge Consultants credits its Ecovation methodology--a process that analyzes a product's total lifecycle environmental impact from material extraction to disposal--for the Stem vacuum.
So how did Cambridge cut down on energy and material use? First, the company surveyed the current vacuum market and thought about ways to improve upon often-used technology. The Stem automatically changes power usage depending on what it is doing. When the vacuum is sitting idle for a moment, power usage also declines.
The vacuum cleaner offers the same size, weight, and performance as standard models--but Cambridge rejiggered the layout of internal parts to increase efficiency and airflow.
Cambridge hasn't announced plans to commercialize the Stem vacuum, but the company has a history of generating technological innovations, including the first GSM videophone, the first single-chip Bluetooth device, and the world's first digital wireless patient monitoring system. Compared to those inventions, bringing a better vacuum to market should be easy.
[Images: Cambridge Consultants]