It would be difficult to have an energy efficient home without energy efficient appliances. By today’s standards, old appliances are very inefficient. And when you consider that washers and dryers, air conditioners, refrigerators and ranges are responsible for approximately 20% of the average home energy bill, having energy efficient appliances becomes even more important.
Consider Purchase Price and Operating Cost
When replacing your appliances, look for the Energy Star logo to ensure that your new appliance meets acceptable standards for energy efficiency. Consider both the purchase price and the operating cost of the appliance. Energy efficient models can be higher priced, but that cost can be offset in just few months by savings on your energy bills. Some energy-efficient models use 1/3 less energy than their non-efficient counterparts and deliver the same service. In the long run, an appliance that appeared to be more expensive will be a lot more cost effective.
Washers and Dryers
According to Energy Star, it costs approximately $1,500 to operate a clothes washer over a 12 year period (that is the cost above and beyond the purchase price). You can save half of that amount if you choose an energy-efficient, Energy Star certified model. When selecting a clothes dryer, stay away from low-cost models. The high operating costs will cost you much more in the long run and do more damage to the environment.
Dishwashers have improved significantly over the last decade. New models have innovative technology that reduce energy, water and detergent consumption. It is important to know that 80% of the energy used by dishwashers is used to heat water, so choose the model that is energy-efficient and has low water consumption.
When replacing your fridge, look for one with a good energy rating. Use the Energy Guide labels to compare models. Carefully consider the size of the refrigerator. Determine what your needs are, remembering that over sized appliances significantly increase your energy consumption.
When considering a range, the major choice is electric or gas. While the performance levels for both are quite consistent, electric ranges are generally less expensive than gas ranges. However, gas ranges are usually cheaper to operate and provide superior temperature control. If you prefer a gas range, look for one that has sealed gas burners designed for easy cleaning. If you prefer electric, know that coil burners are generally less expensive than smooth-tops, but are harder to keep clean.
Whether you choose an electric or gas range, consider the required capacity. A general guide is:
- 1-2 people in household = 2-3 cubic feet of oven space
- 3-4 people = 3-4 cubic feet
- More than 4 people = more than 4 cubic feet
Convection ovens are highly recommended these days due to their many benefits over traditional ovens. Cooking meat is about 30% faster and the meat cooks more evenly. Having a third heating element around the rear and a fan which distributes the heat more evenly are advantages for baking and roasting.
If you have significant home heating needs, replacing your old furnace with a new, high-efficiency one will significantly reduce your energy bills and create much less pollution. Old furnaces usually have AFUE (annual fuel utilization efficiency) of 70% or less, which makes them very expensive to operate. New furnaces have AFUE of 90% or more, which means that it will turn 90% of more of the fuel into heat. It is a good idea to make sure that your house is properly insulated and that your ducts are properly sealed in order to maximize your home’s energy efficiency.
Tax Incentives and Rebates
Federal, state and local governments and utilities offer tax incentives and rebates for energy efficient appliances. Check for available tax credits by visiting the Home Improvement Tax Credits page.