Inflation hasn’t gone down, and climate change hasn’t gone away. Those two factors alone have led many people to look at their electricity use and ask themselves what they can do to use less energy, reduce their carbon footprint, and save money. In fact, that’s probably why you’re reading this article now. Fortunately, there are many ways to be smart about electricity usage at home, and energy efficient appliances are a great foundation. Here we’re going to look at a few benefits of energy-efficient appliances and where to start.
What Does It Mean to Be an Energy-Efficient Appliance?
Energy efficiency is an idea that gets thrown around a lot, so it’s helpful to define what we’re talking about. An energy-efficient appliance performs the same task and produces the same outcome, but uses less energy in comparison to appliances that aren’t designed with efficiency in mind.
Sometimes determining an appliance’s efficiency is a matter of comparing it to other similar appliances and looking at the usage specifications with your unique needs in mind. Other times, energy-efficient appliances can earn an official seal of approval, which makes their identification very easy. Energy Star certification is a designation many of us have heard about, and they’re worth looking for as Energy Star-certified appliances are 9–50% more efficient.
8 Best Energy-Efficient Home Appliances
Home appliances are among the most energy-hungry objects in our homes. Refrigerators and freezers run constantly. Producing heat is energy-intensive, and it’s the sole purpose of the stove, furnace, water heater, and clothes dryer. As you can probably guess, the benefit of using energy-efficient appliances is that you can lower your electricity bill and lighten your carbon footprint. So let’s look at which appliances offer the most potential for savings.
Refrigerators don’t have an “off” switch. So, one of the best appliances to look into when you want to optimize your energy use is the refrigerator. Especially if your refrigerator is more than ten years old. Some people have reported that the operating costs of an old refrigerator are twice that of a new energy-efficient model.
The good news is that refrigerator efficiency has improved dramatically in recent years without sacrificing features or quality. With the costs of refrigerators ranging from $300 to $7,500, you can get an energy-efficient model no matter your budget. Just look for an Energy Star-certified model, and you can be assured that it’ll be at least 9% more efficient than units only meeting minimum efficiency standards. That’ll save you $200 over the life of the unit.
While we’re in the kitchen, let’s pivot and look at the dishwasher. This appliance is found in more than half of all American homes. While the aging models are super reliable, the truth is that they aren’t as efficient as the new Energy Star-certified models. That applies to water usage too. Dishwashers older than 20 years waste 10 gallons of water every time you use them. With a daily load, this adds up to 3,500 gallons over the year.
When your old one needs replacing, or you’re just in the market for a new unit, look for — you guessed it — an Energy Star-certified dishwasher. The price tag runs about $500–$2500, and moving from an outdated dishwasher to an Energy Star-certified model will save you up to $35 per year on your electric bill. An Energy Star-certified dishwasher will save more than energy. You’ll save 3,800 gallons of water over a 10-year lifespan compared to standard models. (Not to mention that new models have advanced features that clean your dishes a lot better.)
3. Clothes Washer
The average American household does over 300 loads of laundry every year. That means that energy-efficient clothes washing machines can offer huge savings when lowering your electric and water bills. In fact, just like the dishwasher, if your clothes washer is more than ten years old, you’re probably spending hundreds every year on water and electricity.
Consider making the switch to an Energy Star-certified clothes washer. They use about 25% less energy and almost 40% less water than regular clothes washers. Over the course of a year, that can add up to around $50 and 3,000 gallons of water. Again, like the dishwashers, technology has evolved, and Energy Star-certified washers have advanced features and do a much better job at washing your clothes.
4. Clothes Dryer
Can’t have one without the other, right? Just like its counterpart, the clothes dryer is hungry for electricity, especially older units. Creating heat is extremely energy-intensive, so it’s no surprise that the clothes dryer has one of the biggest carbon footprints of all household appliances.
When it’s time to buy, look for one that’s Energy Star-certified. While no gas dryers are Energy Star-certified, electric models are available. They use around 20% less electricity than conventional models. Technology has advanced, and new dryers use lower temperatures and sensors to detect when the clothes are dry. Not only is this a better use of electricity, but it can also reduce wear and tear on your clothes.
5. Ceiling Fans
Ceiling fans are a staple in many Texas homes. They keep the air moving in the summer to make the room feel cooler without extra effort from your air conditioner. They also help move the heat around in the winter so that your home has an even temperature throughout. Ceiling fans can make your air conditioner more efficient as you can turn down the thermostat about 4 degrees when the ceiling fan is running, and the room will feel the same.
When looking for ways to improve the efficiency of your HVAC system, consider ceiling fans. Energy Star-certified models are available and use improved motors and blade designs that result in 60% greater efficiency than conventional units.
6. Heat Pumps
Texas weather is known to be quite warm, but sometimes it does get cold.. Heat pumps are a great option because they can cool your home in the summer and heat it in the winter. They remove humidity from the air in the summer and are more efficient than air conditioners. They use 50% less electricity to heat in the winter compared to furnaces and other standard heating systems. If you invest in a heat pump for your home, Energy Star models can save you money by providing a highly efficient source of heating and cooling in both the summer and winter.
Dehumidifiers remove moisture from the air inside your home. This can be helpful in areas of the home where humidity collects such as your bathroom. It can also help reduce the workload on your air conditioner by making the room feel cooler. If you use a dehumidifier in your home, an Energy Star-certified dehumidifier uses 15% less electricity than conventional models. They have more efficient refrigeration coils, compressors, and fans to remove the same amount of moisture with less energy.
8. Smart Thermostats
We have to cap off the list with a bonus mention for smart thermostats. Smart thermostats learn your heating and cooling preferences to make your home’s heating and cooling system much more energy efficient. An Energy Star Smart thermostat could save you almost 10% per year on your heating and cooling costs. If you’re unsure if you can install a smart thermostat, don’t worry. These off-the-shelf devices are plug-and-play with most heating and cooling systems, so installation is a breeze. Additionally, you can boost the efficiency of your thermostat by making your home’s insulation energy efficient.
Lesson? Watch for Energy Star Certified
You might have noticed a trend here, and that’s to look out for that Energy Star certification. It’s a blue label that lets you know that the appliance you’re looking at exceeds the efficiency standards required by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Using these appliances is one of the most effective ways to save electricity, reduce your carbon footprint, and save money.
No new habits to make or break, just shop a little differently. Some of the Energy Star-certified products may have a higher price tag than the cheapest ones, but remember that’s only the entry ticket. Every month, you’ll get a bill for the electricity (and water) resources that appliances consume. Do yourself a favor and get the one that meets your needs and uses electricity efficiently.
While these appliances are the core devices that many people have, they’re not the only options available for energy-efficient devices. In fact, Energy Star certification exists in a range of products, including air conditioners, freezers, air conditioners, fans, and monitors. So, as a general rule of thumb, whenever you’re in buying mode and comparing products, make the energy efficiency of any appliance or device that you’re considering an important criteria in your decision.
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There are lots of ways to use less electricity and save money every month. Energy-efficient appliances are one strategy. Stomping out “vampire electricity” in your home is another. Why not maximize those efforts with a fair, fixed-rate electricity plan from Energy Texas? All our electricity is 100% clean, green renewable power from solar, wind, and carbon-neutral natural gas.
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