Apr 10, 2013 2:00 PM  PST

GreenPointers: Major Appliances


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GreenPointers: Major Appliances

Our series of GreenPointers provides helpful tips for a healthier, greener home in a variety of topics. Today's topic is Major Appliances.

Green Pointers

Upgrading appliances which use a lot of energy or water such as refrigerators, dishwashers and clothes washers are easy and cost-effective ways to reduce energy and water use while saving money on utility bills. When shopping for these appliances, always look for the Energy Star label, which saves more energy and money than standard models that merely meet the government’s basic standards for energy efficiency. They also perform better and last longer.

Here are a few recommended shopping tips for major appliances:


Step 1

REFRIGERATORS/FREEZERS

  Refrigerators and freezers are among the largest users of electricity in most homes, accounting for up to 25% of household energy use. Replacing an older refrigerator with a new Energy Star model may reduce your overall electricity bill by 10% or more.

Larger refrigerators tend to use more energy than smaller models. Keep your refrigerator's size in check: choose a model with no more than 20 to 25 cubic feet of capacity for the refrigerator and freezer combined.

Avoid through-the-door ice dispensers and side-by-side refrigerators/freezers, as these models use 10% to 30% more energy than comparable models without these features.

Step 2

DISHWASHERS

  High-efficiency dishwashers use less water and energy than conventional dishwashers. Replacing a dishwasher made before 1994 with a new Energy Star-qualified model will save you $40 a year, according to the Energy Star program. That's enough to pay for your dishwashing detergent for a whole year. Also, a high-efficiency dishwasher will save an average of 1,300 gallons of water over its lifetime.

High-efficiency dishwashers have a built-in water heater to boost the temperature of the dishwashing water. This means you can turn your household water heater down to 120°F, which will reduce your overall water-heating costs.

Step 3

WASHING MACHINES

  Energy Star-qualified clothes washing machines use 50% less energy and 35% to 50% less water than a standard washer--and they do just as good a job of cleaning laundry. Replacing a washer that's over 10 years old can save $135 each year on your utility bills, according to the Energy Star program.

Choose clothes washers with a water factor rating of 4.5 or less and a modified energy factor of 2.2 or greater. Note that not all Energy Star models meet this level of water and energy efficiency. The Consortium for Energy Efficiency has a helpful program that groups clothes washers into three categories of efficiency; look for products that qualify for CEE's Tier 2 or Tier 3 (Tier 3 is most efficient). Find qualifying models at www.energystar.gov or www.cee1.org.

Most Energy Star washing machines save energy and water through a horizontal axis design (usually front-loading instead of top-loading) that tumbles clothes in a small amount of water. These models also include a high-speed final spin cycle that extracts more moisture than standard washers. Less moisture means less drying time, which saves even more energy. And horizontal axis washing machines tend to be less abrasive to fabric than conventional top-loading machines with agitators, helping clothes last longer.

Choose a model that's the right size for your household's needs. Larger models hold more clothes but they use more energy too. High-efficiency clothes washers typically require the use of low-sudsing, high-efficiency detergents (often labeled HE). These detergents are used in smaller amounts than conventional detergents and cost less per load.



Read more tips on Major Appliances.





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