Can you save enough money or power to bother with by replacing your older appliances with newer energy-efficient versions? After all, no large appliances are all that cheap, so there will be your out-of-pocket cost right away. If you are starting from scratch and building a new home or doing a major remodel, then it makes sense to choose the most energy-efficient appliances you can. But what about for the rest of us?
The US government provides consumers with a lot of information, and one estimate I picked up from them is that the average family can save about $75 in power bills per year if all the appliances are energy efficient. However, another source I found online estimated closer to $400 savings per year. So I would guess that your savings would be in that range, depending on electrical costs where you are and just how average your family really is!
Since appliances are designed to last for a good number of years, over time they will indeed pay for themselves and likely save you some thousands of dollars beyond the costs of the appliances.
Saving money on electricity is good for individual families, and then if you multiply the amount of power that each family saves by however many households do the upgrading, then over time there is a significant benefit to our power grid. That matters.
Besides power, the newer washing machines use up to 40% less water than the older ones. In many western parts of the US, especially, ongoing drought issues are already a big challenge.( I’ll do a separate article soon just on washers, dryers, and clotheslines.)
Whether you have just a refrigerator, a refrigerator-freezer combo, or one of each, chances are they are using a lot of power. The newer units have several benefits:
- They are often much better insulated.
- They regulate temperatures more effectively, eliminating much temperature swing inside the fridge or freezer.
- Their defrosting process is better.
- They may be more convenient to use. We had a unit where the freezer was on the bottom and the refrigerator on top, and we were always commenting on how ergonomic that was! When we sold that house, the new owners were happy to get energy-efficient appliances.
Those first benefits translate into less environmental impact.
So there are good reasons to consider energy-efficient appliances. A downside could be what happens to the old ones. Don’t just put it in the garage or basement and use it as an extra! That would completely defeat the purpose of buying a new one. Find out if your local utility company, town, or city will pick it up; they might even pay you something to stop using it.
Shopping for Energy Efficient Appliances
What do you need to know in order to buy a better refrigerator, freezer, stove, dishwasher, washer, or dryer? You can find all sorts of appliances that people claim are energy-efficient, but you will get a more effective one if you spend a little time comparing different models.
The Energy Star website is useful. That link takes you to its homepage; here is the link for its appliance section. They even have comparison charts for different brands and models that can be easier to use than staring at a whole bunch of tags in different stores. Here is the comparison chart for energy use of different refrigerators and freezers.