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Energy-Conscious Home Appliances: What to Look for at Any Price

June 30 2008

Every appliance has two prices: the sticker price, and the one you pay to run the appliance year-round. Considering that a minor expense today could translate into huge savings tomorrow, you’ll want to know your options before buying your next major home appliance.Energy Conscious Home Appliances

So what appliances are energy-efficient? ENERGY STAR certified applicances (a joint program between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] and the U.S. Department of Energy) are ones that use less energy. In 2007, Americans bought enough ENERGY STAR applicances to limit emmissions equivilant to green house gases from 27 million cars — all the while saving $16 billion on their utility bills, or roughly one-third their annual utility cost (source: ENERGY STAR).

If you’re trying to both increase efficiency and boost the resale value of your home, look for machines that have earned the ENERGY STAR label, meaning they have met strict energy-efficiency guidelines. It’s also important to check the EnergyGuide labels on appliances to see consumption rates for that model expressed in annual kilowatt hours and the approximate annual cost of running the appliance.

The following additional tips should also help:

Refrigerators – Next to your furnace and water heater, your refrigerator uses the most energy in your home, so make sure a new fridge suits your needs. If it’s too large, you’ll waste energy cooling phantom food; too small may simply be inconvenient. Models with freezers on the top or bottom are more efficient than those with freezers on the side.

Stoves – Cooking habits should determine which is best for you. While the design and price of today’s gas and electric stoves are similar, gas stoves require less energy for stovetop cooking. If you do a lot of baking or oven use, however, the electric stove is a better option.

Clothes Washers – According to the EPA, Horizontal-axis washers use 50 percent less energy, less water and less soap. This translates into savings on average of about $95 a year for the average household

Clothes Dryers – ENERGY STAR does not label dryers since most consume the same amount of energy. Do, however, try to buy one with a moisture sensor that will automatically shut off the dryer when your clothes are dry, rather than completing the cycle.

Air Conditioners – Ensure correct size for your room and go for energy efficiency. If it’s cooling a sunny room, consider increasing capacity by 10 percent.

Natural gas and oil systems – Look for the Federal Trade Commission EnergyGuide label with an Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating.  This measures the seasonal annual efficiency (ENERGY STAR furnaces have a 90 AFUE rating or above).

It’s becoming increasingly simple to add efficient appliances to your home. While it may initially seem more expensive, you’ll see savings in subsequent bills, and create added interest in your property when it’s time to sell.