How to find green and energy efficient home appliances
Want Cheaper Energy Bills and a Greener Home? Here’s How to Buy Your Next Household Appliances
If you recycle, if you watch your water consumption, if you carry your own bag to the grocery store and you minimize your purchases of plastics, you’re putting in a lot of time and energy to watch your impact on the environment.
That’s why it should bother you when your appliances don’t live up to the standards you set.
The problem is, many people are ignorant to just how much energy their refrigerator uses, or what kind of environmental impact their water habits might have.
The solution? Throughout this article, we’ll explain what green appliances are, why they’re important to the environment, and how to find them. The end result will yield a money-saving, energy-efficient home that holds to your standards for an environmental-friendly lifestyle.
What are Green Appliances, and How Can You Find Them?
“Okay, green appliances? I’m in! But, how do I find them?”
You’d be amazed at how many people ask some variation of that question, as if the answer is complex and mysterious. The truth is, it’s actually very simple to figure out which appliances are green and which ones are merely costing you green.
Before you buy your next appliances, keep the following in mind:
- The EnergyStar® Label. The Natural Resource Defense Council recommends seeking this label out because the appliances that bear this label don’t just meet the minimum requirements of energy efficiency by the government, they exceed them. EnergyStar® also hands out awards for high standards and performance for specific brands.
- Find the EnergyGuide Label. You know how bread comes with nutrition information on the label? Appliances actually have something similar. This label is perfect for comparing similar appliances head-to-head to see how they really stack up. Once you get used to reading these, picking the greener appliance is easy.
- Think “size-appropriate.” Does a college dorm room need an industrial-sized air conditioner? Does a two-person household require a refrigerator that resembles something a butcher would use? A little common sense goes a long way when it comes to energy usage.
Why are Green Appliances Important?
We’re aware of the fact that a phrase like “green appliances” makes it sound like you’re seeking out low-power thingamajigs that were built out of coconuts by the Professor from “Gilligan’s Island.” But it’s not like that.
In fact, if you do it right, your kitchen and household will be stealthily green—it will look like anyone else’s household, but with less energy costs and less impact on the environment. This is accomplished in two ways:
- Finding low-energy usage items. Or, more accurately, you’re merely seeking out lower-energy items. It’s not that these appliances are low energy; it’s that they don’t require extra energy. According to the NRDC, a refrigerator built today will use 75% less energy than one from decades ago—but the food inside is still kept chilled. More efficiency means less energy used. Less energy used means less money spent, and less of a consumption strain on the environment. Simple as that.
- Establishing conscientious consumption habits. You’re not just a customer; you’re a consumer. You’re going to use that dishwasher and that washing machine, so you’d better learn how to use it. If you scrape your plates before dishwashing, for example, and leave off the “rinse” cycle, you can save some 20 gallons per wash. That has nothing to do with the quality of the appliance and everything to do with your habits as a consumer.
When you combine these two strategies, you can have a positive impact on the environment in the following ways:
- Using less energy. If you’re in the United States, there’s a decent chance this energy comes from fossil fuels. (In fact, the EPA shows exactly how good those chances are.) Less fuels burnt means a happier environment.
- Less water consumption.It’s the inconsiderate consumer who uses more water than he or she needs. Until we set up water pumps in space, clean, fresh water is a finite resource that we need to conserve.
- Rely less on electricity. Electricity has to be generated by a power plant. If you can use your own natural gas for certain appliances, then you’re generating your own energy supply. And natural gas burns cleaner than many other fuel sources.
How to Save Money On Your Next Appliance
The quickest way to save money on an appliance is to buy one with the most possibly efficiency. The more efficient it is, the greener the appliance—and the more green can be kept in your wallet.
You can start by using the tips in the first section. But there’s more you can do to save money.
You can start by replacing energy-inefficient appliances. Replacing a decades-old refrigerator can have an amazing effect on your energy bill, since refrigerators are constantly running. And did you know that a refrigerator with a side-by-side freezer is some 10-15% more efficient than the refrigerators with freezers on top?
Also, make sure you don’t just think about the kitchen. Yes, there are a lot of appliances in the kitchen. But what about air conditioners? Water heaters? Electronics? Printers? The NDRC has tips for improving them all and finding great new appliances to purchase as well.
It’s very important to become a conscientious consumer.Question your own behavior. Is there an “energy-saving” option on your dishwasher? Why don’t you use it? Do you know how much water your household uses during the most water-busy hours, like morning showers and washing? Then buy a water heater based on that information. Becoming conscientious of your impact on the environment starts with becoming aware of your own habits.
A side benefit: once you master these three tips, you’ll save money on energy every single month.
Finding the Appliances to Match Your Ideals
It’s good to care about the environment, but taking care of the environment starts at home. If you want to reduce your impact on the Earth and save money in the process, you’d do well to study your own appliances, learn which ones might be more efficient, and adjust your habits to become a more Earth-friendly consumer.
Guest post contribution by Kevin Harbour, a freelance writer specializing in green topics.
Read more about energy-efficient appliances.
Guest Blogger These columns are the work of our guest bloggers who want to share their expert green opinions on a range of topics.