New site guides consumers to Top Ten appliances

| by Gary Wollenhaupt
New site guides consumers to Top Ten appliances

Upgrading your old refrigerator, dishwasher, or washing machine could help you cut energy costs by two-thirds. That is, if you make the right choices.

To help consumers sort through the confusing mass of data, TopTen USA launched a useful website that ranks the – wait for it – Top Ten appliances in major categories. The idea started in Europe, and was ported to the United States this month.

On, the products are ranked according to energy efficiency in these categories:

  • Refrigerators
  • Freezers
  • Televisions
  • Computers
  • Vehicles
  • Dishwashers
  • Clothes washers
  • Monitors

In some categories there are ties, and some models are offered under various brand names in different markets. 

The goal for TopTen USA was to supplement the information provided by the Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star program, whose familiar blue labels on products have long been consumers' guide to energy savings. TopTen USA uses the information the manufacturers supply to the Energy Star program to rate the products.

"TopTen does not set baselines," said Norman L. Dean, TopTen USA's executive director."Instead, we serve as a real-time market monitor, providing simple, clear, up-to-date lists of the very best. American consumers can achieve very real cost and energy savings by going beyond the baseline and purchasing the most efficient products."

Dean said that older, less energy-efficient appliances can cost consumers a lot of money throughout the years, particularly if the appliance is near the end of its lifespan.

An older appliance could use as much as 3,666 kWh per year to run. At the national average for electricity costs, that consumer spends about $440 per year for the privilege, and closer to $650 in states with high energy costs, such as Connecticut, New York, California and Maryland. If that consumer replaced each of those products with baseline Energy Star products, they would reduce expenditures by about 37 percent.

However, if they instead replaced their old, inefficient products with comparable TopTen models, they would save 67 percent of that money and energy. In many cases, the products on TopTen USA's lists cost no more than less-efficient models. While the large appliances that offer the most savings require some upfront investment, most of the high-efficiency electronics are priced right around the median cost-level for their categories.

While there may be a price premium for the most energy-efficient appliances, the pay off in most cases is reasonable. Blogger Peter Yost wrote that the premium for major appliances ranged from $50 to $200, but the payback could be in as little as two years, well within in the service life of most products.

To make the energy-efficient choices, consumers should keep an eye on the Energy Star ratings. For instance, new standards for TVs mean sets that carry the Energy Star Label are 40 percent more efficient than conventional models.

Energy-efficient products offer one of the quickest and easiest routes to significant greenhouse gas reductions. Even a modest consumer shift — 10 percent of current sales — to the most energy efficient products could have a considerable impact on climate change, eliminating the release of nearly 3.5 million tons of carbon-equivalent gases each year.

If all products used in the U.S. were TopTen ranked, the country would save more than 596 billion pounds of carbon dioxide and more than $46 billion dollars in energy costs over those products' lifetimes.

TopTen USA has also received endorsement and promotion from some of the nation's largest environmental organizations, including the World Wildlife Fund and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

According to Noah Horowitz, senior scientist for NRDC, "TopTen USA provides consumers with a simple, bulletproof way to find the most truly efficient household products. We are delighted by its arrival in the U.S. and expect it to be a great success."

Topics: Appliances, Cost of Ownership, Product Reviews

Gary Wollenhaupt

Gary Wollenhaupt is an experienced writer and editor, with a background as a daily newspaper reporter as well as corporate and agency public relations and marketing. He is constantly looking for affordable green upgrades to make to his home in eastern Kentucky.

wwwView Gary Wollenhaupt's profile on LinkedIn

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