Energy Efficient Appliances
The many benefits of energy-saving appliances
Appliances are a major source of energy consumption, and while running them at off-peak hours whenever possible is an eco-conscious strategy more and more people are aware of, it's only the start of what you can do. Replacing your old appliances with new, energy efficient appliances is beneficial for the environment and can also save you a lot of money on your energy bills.
You've probably already heard of Energy Star appliances. The Energy Star system is simply a standardized designation used to quantify the efficiency of a given appliance. In the United States, Energy Star appliances use, on average, 25 percent less power than federal guidelines permit.
The difference between new energy saving kitchen appliances and older models is dramatic. For example, today's energy efficient refrigerators use an average of 40 percent less power than models produced as recently as 2001. However, you're encouraged to think beyond the kitchen; energy efficient washing machines and energy efficient water heaters both have the potential to save you hundreds of dollars a year in electrical costs.
Choosing Energy Efficient Home Appliances
In North America, the Energy Star system is the efficiency benchmark. Energy Star qualified appliances are between 10 and 50 percent more efficient than their standard counterparts. In some cases, you may even qualify for tax incentives if you choose energy saving appliances. Thus, while they may come with an initially higher price tag, the money you could save in taxes and on your energy costs will usually more than balance out the equation at the end of the day. This is the so-called "second price tag," which refers to the amount of money you'll have to spend to actually run the appliance.
If you do make the wise decision to replace older units with energy efficient appliances, please be sure to take advantage of local appliance recycling programs. Many older appliances need to have lingering chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) removed before they are fed through a crusher; the act of harvesting the appliance's metal releases harmful CFCs into the atmosphere if they are not eliminated first. Your municipality's waste management officials can inform you of local programs and protocols.