In 1992, the EPA introduced ENERGY STAR® ratings as a voluntary labeling program designed to identify and promote energy-efficient products to reduce pollution.
ENERGY STAR® qualified appliances incorporate advanced technologies that use 10 to 66 percent less energy and/or water than standard models without sacrificing the features and quality you expect. All major home appliances must meet minimum energy conservation standards set by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). ENERGY STAR® qualified appliances beat the standard and use even less energy and cost less to operate.
According to the EPA and U.S. Department of Energy, ENERGY STAR® qualified appliances can save 20 to 30 percent in energy costs over the course of one year:
The True Cost of an Appliance
When buying an appliance, remember that it has two price tags:
The cost to take it home.
The cost of the energy and/or water to use it.
To know the yearly cost of running an appliance, start by looking at the yellow and black Federal Trade Commission's EnergyGuide label. Manufactures are required to display the label on many appliances including refrigerators, clothes washers, air conditioners, dishwashers and water heaters.
The label provides information on how much energy the appliance uses, compares energy use of similar products, and lists approximate annual operating costs. Exact costs will depend on local utility rates and the type and source of your energy.
Looking at the EnergyGuide label can be a key factor in helping you make a decision on an appliance. For example, a refrigerator with a yearly operating cost of $50 may be more expensive than a refrigerator with a yearly operating cost of $70. If you take into account a $20 annual savings over an appliance's lifetime, you might be saving more money in the long run by investing up front in an energy-efficient appliance.
In addition, an EnergyGuide label frequently states whether an appliance is ENERGY STAR® qualified. The ENERGY STAR® logo assures that the appliance meets or exceeds the ENERGY STAR® level. Because an ENERGY STAR® qualified appliance uses 10 to 66 percent less water and/or energy than standard models, you can save money in addition to resources. You can save up to 30 percent per year by using ENERGY STAR® qualified appliances.
Looking at Energy-Efficient Appliances
The U.S. EPA and DOE state that a refrigerator, dishwasher and clothes washer can account for up to 20 percent of a household's monthly utility bill. With that in mind, energy efficiency should be an important feature to look for in these particular appliances.
Refrigerators use the most energy of all kitchen appliances, since they run 24 hours a day. If you're thinking about buying a new refrigerator or thinking about moving that old refrigerator to your garage or basement, consider the following:
A 26.9 cubic foot refrigerator purchased in 1993 has an estimated annual operating cost of $90. A 2001 ENERGY STAR® qualified refrigerator's estimated annual operating cost is $56. Based on national average utility rates, you can save $340 dollars over 10 years if you replace the older refrigerator with a 2001 ENERGY STAR® qualified refrigerator of the same size and type.
In fact, some ENERGY STAR® qualified refrigerators use less energy than a continuously running 75-watt light bulb.
Whether you wash a few loads a week or a few loads a day, energy-efficient washers can contribute tremendous savings.
Full-sized ENERGY STAR® qualified washers use 16-25 gallons of water per load, compared to the 40 gallons used by a standard machine. For example, top loading washing machines can save as much as 10,000 gallons of water per year.
Front-loading washing machines can save even more — up to 12,584 gallons of water per year.
With an ENERGY STAR® qualified dishwasher, you can save more than your dishpan hands.
According to the EPA and DOE, replacing a non qualified dishwasher with an ENERGY STAR® qualified dishwasher can save up to 10 percent in energy operating costs per year.
In addition, some full-size ENERGY STAR® qualified dishwashers can also conserve up to 493 gallons of water per year.
Additional Ways to Save
You can save even more money through energy rebate programs from local utilities and energy efficiency groups. More than 28 million people in the United States and Canada are eligible for a rebate or tax credit for purchasing an ENERGY STAR® qualified appliance. Some areas offer as much as $200.
The Internet is a great resource to get information on energy efficiency. Check out www.energystar.gov to get up-to-date information on local rebates and to learn more about the ENERGY STAR® program.
Other Simple Energy and Cost Saving Tips
- Remove dust from refrigerator coils.
- Cover liquids and wrapped foods inside the refrigerator to make the compressor work less.
- Limit opening the refrigerator door by using the in the door water/ice feature.
- Run your dishwasher with a full load to get the most from the energy used to run it.
- Use your dishwasher's air-dry option as much as possible. If your dishwasher does not have an air-dry option, prop the door open after the final rinse to dry the dishes.
- Wash full loads. Clothes washers are most efficient when operated with full loads.
- Wash clothes in cooler water.
- Alternate air-drying clothes and using the clothes dryer.
Using less energy means less demand on power plants, which equals a healthier environment for future generations. With ENERGY STAR® qualified appliances, we can all help protect the environment and save money at the same time.