If you’ve seen recent news about energy prices, you may be worried about the impact rising energy rates will have on your utility bills. Using energy-efficient appliances is a great way to save money, while helping to protect the environment.
Appliances that use less electricity, such as those that have a good Energy Star rating, draw less power from the public energy infrastructure. They require less of non-renewable resources used to generate power.
How to tell if an appliance is energy efficient
If you’re shopping for a new appliance, look for the tag (usually in bright yellow) that tells you the appliance’s energy rating. It tells its usage in kilowatt-hours, your expected energy cost for using the appliance, and how that energy usage compares with similar appliances.
On your existing appliance, the tag may still be in place. If not, you can search for energy usage information on the manufacturer’s website using the appliance model number and serial number. If your appliance is more than five years old, you can likely save money with a newer, greener replacement that will pay for itself in the form of reduced energy bills.
Home appliances that use the most energy
There are many options that can help you have a more energy-efficient home. Simple habits, like turning off lights when you leave room, is a great start. But your biggest savings may come from replacing older, energy-hogging appliances with new models that use less power. To see which appliances are most worth replacing, let’s look at the eight biggest energy users.
Your HVAC system heats and cools your home. and is often the largest power drainer in the house. It’s no wonder why: the system includes multiple fans, sensors, a compressor, a condenser, and various other electrical components. One of the easiest ways to make HVAC more efficient is to set your thermostat a bit warmer in the summer and a bit cooler in the winter.
Over time, a small change of a few degrees can make a big impact on energy use.
If you’re looking for an upgrade, consider implementing a ground loop heat pump. Heat pumps use the earth’s thermal energy to bring heat into your house in the winter and dissipate heat in the summer.
You can also consider smart components that let you program your HVAC system, or use sensors to better control your living environment. A “smart” thermostat can adjust temperature settings, depending on when you’re present. It helps ensure that you have both a comfortable environment and lower energy bills that translate into less energy pollution.
2. Water heater
As with your HVAC system, the simple act of turning down the temperature on your water heater can help save money and protect the environment.
It’s also important to ensure that your heater’s tank is free from leaks or blockages. Insulated covers that help your hot water stay hot are also available.
If you’re looking for a new heater, consider a tankless model. These water heaters don’t hold water at temperature, thus lowering your costs and helping to reduce energy pollution.
3. Washer and dryer
How you operate your washer and dryer can reduce energy consumption. Using cold water to wash clothes or line-drying your laundry are great energy-saving options. You can also replace older models with water-saving washing machines and low-voltage dryers that use significantly less energy. These energy-efficient laundry appliances require less resources all around and are available with programmable features that let you fine tune your washing and drying cycles.
If you were disappointed with LED lights when they first hit the market, it’s time to give them another try. New LED bulbs are brighter than the earliest ones on the market. They use a fraction of the energy of incandescent bulbs and can last years longer. The light diffusion of LEDs is comparable to traditional light bulbs, making replacing older bulbs a bright idea, both literally and figuratively. The key is to replace allof your incandescent lighting with LED to achieve the biggest impact.
[Editor’s note: Some of us replaced incandescents with CFLs years ago. LEDs save even more money and energy. If you replace a CFL, whether burned out or not, it contains mercury. It is a hazardous waste, so don’t put it in your trash. Take it to your local hazardous waste collection center.]
Old model refrigerators often leak coolness into their surroundings. They also using a less efficient heat exchange to maintain internal temperature. Current refrigerator technology, whether it has a traditional compressor or uses charged plates for cooling, moves heat away from the appliance better than older technology. New fridges also come with designs that help you reach commonly used items and see what is in the fridge without opening its doors.
6. Electric Oven
The longer it takes your oven to preheat, the more energy you use to prepare meals. A bad oven seal alone can require significantly more energy production to achieve the desired cooking temperature. If your oven’s seal is tight and it still takes the appliance a long time to heat, the equipment’s heating element may be on its way out.
Failing heat elements can be replaced. However, if you’re looking to buy a new oven, focus on choosing one that has plenty of heat-reflecting insulation around the hot box to produce faster heating. The result is an oven that uses less electricity to maintain heat, which is good for the environment.
[Editor’s note: Use a toaster oven for anything small enough to fit in it. Also, you don’t need to preheat your oven unless you’re baking pastries.]
If your TV is the size of an oven, it’s time for an upgrade. Turning your TV off when no one is watching is a great energy-saving option, but you stand to save the most energy by updating to a modern model. LED TVs use less power, thanks to their energy-efficient screens, while giving you a superior picture compared to older cathode ray tubes or plasma TVs.
Modern dishwashers often come with energy-efficient settings. They offer a water saver mode. You can turn off powered drying. And run the appliance only when it’s full. These practices can help you save money and preserve the environment. You also have the option of using a little elbow grease to avoid a pre-wash scrubbing cycle.
[Editor’s note: An Energy-Star rated dishwasher uses less than half as much electricity as washing the same load of dishes by hand. It also saves nearly 5,000 gallons of water annually.]
Energy-efficient technology continues to advance, driven by frugality among consumers and younger generations of consumers who were raised in the age of environmental initiatives, such as Earth Day. Regardless of your reason for switching to energy-efficient appliances, doing so can save you money on utility bills and help spare the environment from energy pollution.
Meet the author
Jordan McDowell is a writer and content strategist, specializing in forward-looking design and renovation ideas for homeowners everywhere.