How to Buy the Most Efficient Appliances

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Nobody likes to get their monthly electricity, water and sewer bills, but there’s plenty of ways to reduce them.  Read my Top 5 Reasons to Conserve Energy post where you’ll also learn about easy ways you can reduce your energy consumption.  Read about the importance of saving water here.  I’ve written numerous posts about water conservation through the use of inexpensive aerators added to your kitchen and bath faucets, low-flow showerheads, motion-activated faucets, and rainbarrels for watering the landscape.  Today, it’s all about appliances.

Whether you need a new refrigerator, clothes washer, dishwasher, or room air conditioning unit, there are several models available that will save energy and save you money over the life of the appliance.  You may already be familiar with the government’s Energy Star label which is displayed on most appliances on the market today.  Energy Star is really just a starting point.  For even higher energy-conserving criteria, the Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE) promotes the Super-Efficient Home Appliances Initiative (SEHA).  SEHA appliances are defined as the upper end of the Energy Star program and are available by most appliance manufacturers.

  • Refrigerators typically consume the largest amount of energy in most households, accounting for about 15% of residential electricity usage. Performance levels within the CEE specification are established at 20%, 25% and 30% more efficient than the federal minimum standard.  Here’s a pdf of the CEE’s Refrigerator Qualifying Product List which includes Brands, model numbers, sizes, and kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity used per year.  (Tier 3 in the table lists the most efficient refrigerators).
  • Clothes washers are listed in the CEE specification and have two parts for high-efficiency:  energy consumption (Modified Energy Factor–MEF) and water usage (Water Factor–WF).  MEF measures energy consumption of the total laundry cycle (washing and drying through the spin cycle).  The higher the MEF number, the better.  The WF indicates the number of gallons of water needed for each cubic foot of laundry.  Here, you want a lower number.  Here too, Tier 3 in the pdf table for washing machines shows the most efficient models.
  • Dishwashers use the majority of their energy during the hot water and heated dry cycles.  So it helps to turn off the heated dry cycle and let the dishes air dry.  Dishwashers that use 26% less electricity than the federal minimum are listed in the CEE table.  Energy Star rated dishwashers now meet criteria set by the CEE in Tier 1 of the CEE table.  Again, the higher the Tier, the more efficient.
  • Room Air Conditioners that use at least 15% less electricity than federal standards are labeled with an Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) that is between 9.8 and 11.3, according to size.  The higher the EER number, the more efficient.  The purchase price of SEHA air conditioners is even about the same as less efficient models, but they’ll save you money on your energy bills.

Tag(s): Energy, Greening the Home, Kitchens And Baths, Money Saving

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