New appliances can be expensive, but they might save you money over the long-term, especially if you look for energy-saving models.
When you get to the home improvement or appliance store or start shopping online, you’ll notice many appliances have a bright yellow EnergyGuide label. The federal government requires this on several categories of new major appliances, as well as air conditioners, heat pumps, boilers and furnaces. It’s not required on clothes dryers, dehumidifiers, humidifiers, ranges and ovens.
These labels give information necessary to compare energy consumption and average operating costs on otherwise similar items based on national averages (your costs may differ).
You can also look for the blue Energy Star label, indicating the product has met standards enforced by the EPA. To bear the logo, products must decrease energy use and reduce greenhouse emissions, among other requirements. Energystar.gov offers a product-finder tool to help you locate approved appliances on the market.
Here are some ways you can save money with energy-efficient products:
- Install a programmable thermostat, to regulate the temperature of your place when you’re home or away. Savings: 10 percent a year off your heating and cooling bill, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
- Get an energy-efficient hot water heater, like an on-demand, tankless one, or go solar. The Energy Department says your home’s water heater is the third-largest single energy expense in your home, and could account for 12 percent of the utility bill.
- Upgrade appliances. Appliances including refrigerators, washers and dryers account for about 15 percent of your home’s energy usage. Newer, Energy Star-labeled washing machines use nearly three-quarters less water than old agitator washers of previous decades.
- Choose energy-efficient lighting. Look for Energy Star qualified fixtures and bulbs. The average household spends around 11 percent of its energy budget on lighting, the Energy Department reports.
- Look for Energy Star when replacing home entertainment electronics, too. Energystar.gov says if you buy an Energy Star-labeled television, you’ll be saving 27 percent more electricity on your TV-usage than with a non-rated model. Collectively, we could save $220 million and prevent about 2.8 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions annually, if every TV, DVD player and soundbar purchased in the U.S. this year were Energy Star certified. That’s the same as the emissions of nearly 275,000 cars.
Once you get your new appliance or electronic devices home, be sure to carefully follow the user manual for installation and care, said Greg Friedman, president of Mr. Appliance, a repair service with technicians throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Most appliances don’t require much ongoing maintenance except refrigerators, which need a quick vacuuming of the coils once or twice a year to keep running at maximum efficiency.
“It’s just taking off the bottom grate, and using a little shopvac or vacuum with an extension hose on it to go over the coils, and if you can pull the refrigerator out, do the back too,” he said. “You’re just trying to get rid of the dust bunnies.”