Your Ultimate Guide to Energy Efficient Appliances and How To Save Money

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Energy efficient is a quite the buzz word these days, but what do energy efficient appliances mean for your home, your budget, and the planet? Are they worth the hype? We’re tackling these questions and many others in today’s ultimate guide to energy efficient appliances.

Learn what the blue Energy Star label means, plus, get the details so you can decide for yourself if energy efficient appliances help the environment.

Why Does Efficiency Matter?

If you spend around $3000 per year on energy expenses, you’re roughly in line with most Americans. Broken down per year, that’s about $250 per month spent on things like natural gas, electricity, and vehicle fuel. Of course, much of your monthly energy expenditures will depend on where you live.

If you live in Wyoming, for example, you’ll likely spend more than the national average for vehicle energy costs. If, however, you live in Hawaii, you’ll spend almost nothing in natural gas because you’ll rarely (if ever) need to turn on the heater!

What doesn’t change is that Americans spend top dollar on energy costs every month, and we know statistically that about 30% of those monthly energy costs are generated by our appliances–things like the refrigerator, which runs constantly, the clothes dryer, which tends to be a huge energy suck, and devices known as energy vampires that stay plugged in even when they’re in standby mode, such as printers and hair dryers.

What Is Energy Efficiency?

Energy efficient appliances are appliances specifically designed to use less energy without sacrificing performance. In fact, thanks to today’s smarter-than-ever technology, many of the most efficient appliances are now the most powerful and can significantly reduce your monthly energy costs.

Let’s say, for example, that you cut your appliance energy bills in half. That’s a savings of approximately $500 a year for the average person. Considering we tend to keep appliances like refrigerators and dryers for years, that kind of savings can add up.

Is There More to Efficiency Than Just Money?

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As it turns out, energy efficient appliances don’t just save you money; they also help you reduce your carbon footprint. By creating less of a draw on potentially unsustainable energy resources, you’ll be contributing to greater levels of sustainability nationwide.

Plus, resources such as natural gas, water, coal, and oil can be preserved, increasing conservations efforts in the United States and around the world. You’ll also be helping to reduce pollution since much of our current energy production creates nasty byproducts that harm the environment and sometimes even people.

Better for Everyone

Finally, a new energy efficient appliance will probably also be more environmentally friendly than the fifteen-year-old dinosaur freezer sitting in your garage. Refrigerators and air conditioners, for example, use to utilize a nasty chemical called CFLs as a coolant. When research indicated CFLs were hazardous, manufacturers found better alternatives.

Ultimately, energy efficient appliances are a win for you and the environment (which, we’re pretty sure, is another win for you!).

What is the Energy Star Certification?

Energy efficient appliances are appliances specifically designed to use less energy without sacrificing performance. In fact, thanks to today’s smarter-than-ever technology, many of the most efficient appliances are now the most powerful and can significantly reduce your monthly energy costs.

Let’s say, for example, that you cut your appliance energy bills in half. That’s a savings of approximately $500 a year for the average person. Considering we tend to keep appliances like refrigerators and dryers for years, that kind of savings can add up.

Widely Available and Always Efficient

Studies indicated that as much as 90% of American households recognize the small blue label on appliances, so it’s safe to assume you’ve probably seen it, too, whether you’ve shopped for a new home, an AC unit, or a new microwave

While its presence doesn’t guarantee that the product you’re interested in is the most efficient appliance possible, it does guarantee the product has met a set of benchmarks during special pre-production testing. Independent, third-party monitors help the program to maintain its credibility and manufacturers must also agree to possible off-the-shelf testing after the product is made available to customers.

What consumers can expect is that they’ll save, on average, 10-20% of energy costs on their new Energy Star appliance. These aren’t savings to sneeze at!

How Do I Find Energy Efficient Appliances?

Every major retailer worth its salt (and even a few that aren’t!) will carry Energy Star appliances. You’ll also find that every major appliance manufacturer is involved in the program. One of the most helpful ways to compare between Energy Star appliances is by taking advantage of the Energy Guide.

How the Energy Guide Can Help You Shop

Located on every Energy Star appliance, the Energy Guide is a bright yellow tag that indicates how much the average family will spend by using the indicated appliance. This helps you compare appliances, but keep in mind that it’s not the final word. If, for example, you’re an average four-person household that dries large loads of clothes daily, you can expect that the savings listed will apply to you.

If, however, you’re a single person who only runs a few small loads a week, you probably won’t see the same savings. In fact, at this point, it might not be worth the upgrade to an extremely efficient machine. Extreme efficiency usually costs more, and it might not be worth the investment.

Start With These Energy Efficient Appliances

Now that you know a little more about how to identify energy efficient appliances let’s talk about which appliances you should start replacing first. There are situations where you’ll be able to replace your appliances wholesale (in the case of a new home build, for example), but you’ll probably be like most people and want to gradually make changes in your home.

Below, we’re outlining the appliances you should change first for maximum results.

Heating and Cooling

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Half of your energy dollars are likely going to heating and cooling, so that’s usually the best place to start if you want to see some positive changes on your energy bill. One of the simplest (and most important) things you can do is to check for leaks.

Look for places in your home where the cold or hot air is escaping, like drafty doors or windows. Use weatherstripping or some caulk to stop up the holes. This isn’t purchasing an appliance per say, but it is helping you take advantage of the appliances you do have, keeping them from working overtime!

The Energy Star program states that homeowners can save as much as 20% on their energy bills each year if their current cooling system is over twelve years old. If that’s the case for you and your system needs to be replaced, you could see tremendous savings with a new Energy Star unit.

Replacing a unit is neither cheap nor easy, but there is one relatively inexpensive appliance you can purchase and install that will also make a tremendous impact on your bottom line. Can you guess what it is? It’s a programmable thermostat!

Thermostats can save some families as much as $150 a year simply by learning your habit and adjusting the temperature accordingly. Most will enable you to set typical schedules for the weekdays when everyone is at work or school, and the weekends when everyone is home. You can also see savings via scheduled lowered or raised temperatures at night.

Light the Way (More Efficiently)

Other simple changes that have a long-term impact on your energy bill include changing the lightbulbs in your home. Using Energy Star LED bulbs can save you a significant amount of money; they’ll also mean you don’t have to replace bulbs as often!

Plus, many new Energy Star LED bulbs are available with smart technology built in. Once you’ve installed the bulb, you can use an app on your phone to connect to a hub, Wi-Fi, or in-home network. From there, you’ll be able to turn your lights off and on remotely, or even schedule them, just like you schedule your thermostat.

Make an Appliance Switch

Your clothes washer, refrigerator, and clothes dryer together account for most of the appliance energy use in your home. Replacing each of these if they’re old or no longer meet Energy Star benchmarks is a quick way to make another long-term difference in your energy bill.

You can also take steps to make sure your existing appliances aren’t working so hard; freezers in the garage, for example, have to work harder to keep your food cold. Make sure you run full loads in the washer only and try to air dry your clothes as much as possible to eliminate your need to run the dryer.

Most of the steps we’ve outlined in today’s guide on energy efficient appliances are small; when they add up, however, they can have a huge impact on your wallet and the environment. Sounds like a lot of winning to us!