Whirlpool smells profit in new washer with anti-odor, smart grid features

It may feel a little creepy to think of your washing machine talking to the power company, but that's among the bells and whistles appliance manufacturers are coming up with to perk up a market that's been smacked down hard by the recession. For now, Whirlpool Corp. (WHR) wants to get an edge by protecting clothes from moldy smells if you forget to unload the wash. But eventually, it plans to sell appliances that can communicate with the planned smart power grid to save energy.

Whirlpool is shipping a new Duet washer with a feature that tumbles wet clothes around for up to 10 hours after finishing the wash -- to keep the clothes from getting musty or wrinkled. In its announcement, the company claims its research found 72 percent of consumers felt it was important that clothes don't get smelly if left in the washer, but only 47 percent are satisfied with how their washers currently handle this.