Energy Efficient Appliances for your Home

 
Energy efficent appliances in the kitchen

One of the best ways to conserve energy and expenses associated with your home is to begin using Energy Efficient appliances. It's possible to save hundreds of dollars a year and several thousand cubic gallons of water if you were to convert all of your home appliances to EnergyStar certified eco products.

You can easily identify an EnergyStar certified appliance from the blue sticker prominently displayed on the product announcing is EnergyStar rated.

This certification means that the appliances you are choosing use between 10-50% less energy to operate than models that do not carry this rating. Energy can mean water usage, electricity consumed and carbon emissions. Several states offer tax incentives and breaks for using these EnergyStar certified appliances.

When shopping for new appliances, be sure to look for the Energy \Guide label on the back of the appliance. This will give you a marker as to how much energy that particular machine uses, giving you a benchmark to go with that fits your budget and your environmental commitment. (Microwaves, ranges or clothes dryers do not carry an Energy Guide Label but there are better options than others). The EnergyStar symbol is available on hundreds of brand name products including, water heaters, refrigerators, freezers, clothes washers, lighting fixtures and numerous other everyday household products. We will focus on some of the major considerations for buying and selecting the right appliance for your home and touch on the major appliances that can help you save the most money while best conserving the environment.

EnergyStar Clothes Washers

Clothes washer takes up vast amounts of energy in the washing and rinsing of clothes. Traditional top loading models used a central agitator to rinse and remove water as well as used water levels that filled the entire tub. This invariably cost more in electricity and water usage. There are now solutions available to reduce this waste. EnergyStar certified washing machines now use either a front loading system, which has no central agitator, instead using high speed spin cycles to remove moisture or modified top loaders which have water level sensors to regulate the fill levels along with high pressured water sprayers to help rinse. Either option is good although the efficiency of the front loaders has come along faster. Almost all front loaders are compatible with new HE Detergent (High Efficiency) which uses less soap, creating less suds, meaning less water consumption for the spin and rinse cycles. Their higher spin cycles allow for better removal of moisture thus reducing drying times.

Tips on saving energy when doing laundry

  • Washers use the same energy regardless of load size. Always try to maximize loads
  • Use the proper detergent. High Efficiency front loaders are designed to use HE detergent. Your machine can be severally damaged using standard detergent as they produce more suds than HE brands, creating mechanical malfunctions long term
  • Always use cold cycle. Heating of the water takes up almost 90% of the energy during a regular wash so unless you are dealing with severely stained articles of clothing, using the cold cycle will be more than adequate.
  • If your machine has it, enable the high spin functions to help remove moisture more quickly.
  • When drying, use the moisture sensor so the machine stops when the clothes are dry instead of timed drying.
  • Keep the lint catcher clean to help with air circulation
  • Check that seals are tight to prevent leaking
  • If using a front loading machine, leave the door open after the wash to help remove excess moisture from the inner bladder.
  • When purchasing Energy Efficient clothes washers, look for the MEF (Modified Energy Filter) and the WF (Water Factor). The MEF measure the energy used for the heating of the water as well as the spin, rinse and wash cycles. The lower the rating, the better. The WF measures how many gallons of water are consumed per cubic foot.
  • Buy the machine that suits your needs. Large families have different requirements than apartment dwellers. Buy the machine that is best suited to you and your energy consumption needs.

Energy Efficient Refrigerators and Freezers

Refrigerators and freezers account for a big proportion of most homes electrical bills. Using EnergyStar rated Refrigerators and Freezers can definitely help with those costs. These machines use a minimum of 20% less energy than the current federal standard and are 40% more efficient than earlier models. Their combined use of better insulation, improved defrosting capabilities and high efficiency compressors make these Energy efficient appliances a must have for any green home. There are several different options available form refrigerators with ice makers, side by side freezers and water filtration, but of course, not all machines are created equal and some will be more efficient than others. Refer to the Energy Guide label for complete details. EnergyStar.gov has now begun a fun recycling program for older fridges and if you are interested, go to www.recyclemyoldfridge.com for more details

Tips on saving energy with your refrigerator and freezer

  • Keep refrigerator temperatures between 35 ° and 38 ° Fahrenheit and between 0 ° and 5 ° for freezers. Well below the 40 ° Fahrenheit standard of the USDA food and inspection agency for storing food safely.
  • More energy is required to keep freezers cold when they are half full. It is suggested that if there is excess space in your freezer, consider using jugs of frozen water to occupy that space, keeping the freezer that same temperature but reducing the energy output to keep it cold.
  • Keep refrigerators away from other heat sources and out of the sun. Remember to keep adequate space behind the fridge and freezer for proper circulation to the coils
  • Speaking of coils be sure to keep them free of dust and clean. Consider vacuuming them to prolong their life span.
  • Adjust your refrigerators temperature for the seasons. Cooler in the summer, higher for the winter. Remember to keep it in the safe zone though! Cooler than 40 ° Fahrenheit
  • If you have 2 fridges, consider buying a larger, Energy Efficient model to replace both helping reduce your overall energy consumption
  • Ensure seals and in good working order with no air leaks
  • Buy the machine that’s right for you and your needs. Many bells and whistles associated with new refrigerators such as ice makers and filtered water are good but not necessary. Avoid bells and whistles and focus on energy consumption and capacities.
  • Top and bottom freezer compartment on fridges are better than side by side. Capacity increases as well.

EnergyStar and energy efficient Dishwashers

Dishwashers are another big energy consumer in the home with its heated dry cycles, wash and rinse cycles and of course, overall water consumption. EnergyStar dishwashers are required to use 40% less energy than the federal standard and can help reduce your energy bills and water consumption.

Tips on saving energy with your dishwasher

  • Do full loads of dishes only. The energy used is the same regardless of load size so fill it up!
  • Avoid using the heated drying cycles. Allow your dishes to air dry.
  • Remove excess food waste prior to operation. Restaurants and institutions remove as much waste as possible before hand to ensure proper cleaning, reducing the strain on the filters and reduction of food waste into the pipes and water system.
  • Use the right amount of dishwasher detergent. Cleaner plates at the beginning, less soap used, better impact on the environment

Energy Efficient Induction Cook tops, Stoves and Gas Ranges

As previously mentioned, there is no current Energy Guide rating for stoves and ranges but there is a still opportunity to conserve energy by selecting a cook top and oven that meets your needs. The most common cook tops are electric and gas. Both work well but do not maximize their energy consumption. Electric coil stoves take time to heat using lots of wasted energy in waiting for temperatures while gas is better; it still burns off fuels and unless used with an electric starter, will consume gas continually with the pilot light. One great option which is relatively new to market is Induction cook tops. These cook tops have heating times equivalent to gas stoves, uses approximately 80-90% of the energy required to operate them and has a boil time that is 50% less than conventional electric coil tops. These cook tops heat the cooking vessel, instead of the element itself, using electromagnetic fields. This results in a cooler surface and less energy consumed to operate. The major drawback to this technology is the need for pots and pans to be magnetically conducive as well as the initial price tag on these ranges can be $2000 or more.

Tips for saving energy with your stove and cook top

  • Consider gas or induction over electric.
  • If choosing gas, ensure that it has an electric starter and not a pilot light. Gas convection ovens use re-circulated heated air versus continual heat to cook the entire food area, preserving energy.
  • Use a second temperature gauge to ensure proper temperatures.
  • Self cleaning ranges tend to have better insulation than normal ranges
  • Use the proper element for the pan size. Avoid little pans on big elements.
  • Use the microwave. Microwaves use 1/3 the energy of electric ranges but are not suitable for all cooking.
  • Did we say induction?

The Sexy Green Home Opinion

Deciding to use energy efficient appliances in your home has never been easier. Retailers have several models available and your choices are becoming endless. The market for these appliances is continually growing as demand for an environmental alternative swings from the fringe into the mainstream. Finding the product isn't hard, choosing the one that best suits your needs can be though. Ensure you get the appliance that best reflects you and your family’s needs. Avoid overspending on frills and above all, find the best product in your price range. A little goes a long way if thought out right.

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