6 must-knows for choosing best energy-efficient appliances
While the initial cost of a new appliance might appear expensive, if you analyze the cost in energy savings between new and old units, newer energy-efficient appliances pay for themselves in a short time.
Below are six things homeowners should know when it comes to choosing the best energy-efficient appliances.
1. The biggest energy consumer
Your central heating and air conditioning unit is, by far, the largest consumer of energy. The same is true even for homes relying on window A/C units.
Air conditioning units use a system of measurement called Energy Efficiency Ratio, or EER, to rate their energy usage. Unlike other units of measure, the higher the number, the more efficient the air conditioner.
While many modern units (built after 2010) have ratings of 9 or 10, older units (built before 1995) have ratings more in the 6 to 7 range.
Keeping your A/C unit well maintained, such as changing the filter, cleaning the coils and managing air ducts, will help decrease energy costs, but nothing will save as much money as an upgrade to a more energy efficient unit.
2. Scrutinize construction
The refrigerator and freezer are the second biggest energy consumers in your home. When you consider that replacing an old refrigerator with an Energy Star rated fridge, you will use half the energy that the old unit used.
If looking for a low energy-using refrigerator, scrutinize construction. The following are super low energy users:
- Refrigerators that are larger use more electricity and energy.
- Skip the automatic ice maker or water dispensers, as these use as much as 20 percent more energy than making ice cubes the old-fashioned way.
- The average household needs only a 20 cubic foot refrigerator.
- Freezers-on-top models are much more efficient than side freezers or freezers on the bottom.
- Always check the Energy Star Label. Sometimes, the same size refrigerator with the same features can vary as much as 10 percent in energy usage by brand.
3. The dish on dishwashers
One of the great things modern day dishwashers have is that they not only use less electricity but only as much as half of the water older units consume.
While cleaning screens and using filters can help an older dishwasher, if saving water is your goal, buying an energy efficient dishwasher is your best bet.
Most modern dishwashers offer high-tech applications, such as a delayed wash or “sanitizing” settings. These applications are not necessarily worth the extra cost. If the water temperature is at least 130 degrees, it already does the job of sanitizing your dishes.
To get the most energy efficient rating on a dishwasher, check the Energy Star label.
Depending on prices where you live, a new, super-efficient, low-water consumption dishwasher can cost as little as $300.
4. Read the Energy Star label
Regardless of the appliance being replaced, read and compare the Energy Star label. This is not a trick by manufacturers, but government-backed information about the energy efficiency of nearly every appliance on the market today.
The Energy Star label not only tells the average cost of using this exact appliance, but where this exact model falls on that scale.
Products that receive the Energy Star label are at least 10 percent to 50 percent more efficient than others.
5. Compare gas and electric models
Whether you are considering replacing your old clothes dryer, cooktop, stove, oven or water heater, compare gas and electric models.
While it’s true that most people prefer gas as it works even during a power outage and offers virtual instant heat, depending on where you live and your rates, electric models are sometimes the better bargain.
Electric stovetops use far less energy than gas operated stovetops. Gas stoves and ovens put out as much as 39 percent more carbon monoxide and other dangerous gas into the air than electric units.
6. Look for special offers
By going to the Energy Star website and entering your zip code, you can find rebates on various products, such as $50 off some models of clothes washers or $3 off when you buy some brands of light bulbs.
- Clothes Dryers have changed little in the past 50 years. Don’t replace yours until you have no choice.
- If the cost to repair an appliance is over 40 percent of the cost of a new one, replace it with a new energy-efficient model.
- Energy Star offers a spreadsheet calculator to help you estimate the overall savings during appliances’ expected lifetimes.
- Save even more energy by using common-sense habits, such as turning off lights, televisions and computers, and closing air ducts to unused rooms.
Kathryn Brown is editor of Best Online Cabinets.