On the list of a million things Americans think about, electric motors are probably, oh, number a million and one.

But we’re surrounded by them at home, at the office, in our cars, shopping for groceries — hundreds of millions of them just for heating and cooling. And every one of them could be more efficient.

People like Kansas City inventor Joe Flynn and his two dozen co-workers at QM Power think about motors every day — and now they have one for sale that federal researchers say could save half a billion dollars in energy costs every year.

It’s called the Q-Sync Smart Synchronous Motor, and Flynn says it is “one of the coolest things” he’s ever invented.

Its design came to him while he was pondering how a motor could be more efficient than the best ones on the market but also simpler than the cheapest ones “to keep the costs low.” In the end, said Flynn, the company’s chief technology officer, his design for the Q-Sync was so stripped down “it was hard to believe it ran.”

But run it did.

And now the Q-Sync, designated an “emerging energy-saving technology” by the Department of Energy, is ready for market. Specifically, the supermarket market, because it’s just right for running the evaporation fans that keep food cool.

That may seem like small potatoes, but it’s really big lettuce. Refrigeration costs are one of the biggest expenses for grocers, where profits are just a few pennies on the dollar.

Getting grocers — and their fan makers, equipment buyers and electrical contractors — to make the switch is CEO P.J. Piper thinks he can quickly capture 30 to 40 percent of the food-cooling market. Q-Sync, he said, will not cost grocers more, even with the higher efficiency.