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Energy Guide To
Major Home Appliances

For An Energy-Smart Deal On Your Next Appliance...

  • Look for the EnergyGuide label.
  • Compare the energy use of competing models.
  • Estimate their differences in energy costs.
  • Consider both purchase price and estimated energy

Don't all appliances have to be energy efficient?
All major home appliances must meet Federal minimum energy efficiency standards set by the Department of Energy. It's the law. But many appliances beat the standard and use even less energy.

Why should I care about energy efficiency?
Because the more energy efficient an appliance is, the less it costs to run. That can save you money on your utility bills. And because using less energy is good for the environment, it can reduce air pollution and help conserve natural resources.

What makes one appliance more efficient than another?
Most of the differences are on the inside--in the motors, compressors, pumps, valves, gaskets and seals, or in electronic sensors that make appliances more "intelligent."

How can I be sure it's all not just sales hype?
Manufacturers must use standard test procedures developed by the Department of Energy to prove the energy use and efficiency of their products. Many have these tests performed by independent laboratories. The test results are reported on the EnergyGuide.

Retailers are required to display these stickers.

Why do some appliances have EnergyGuides and others don't?
The EnergyGuide information is designed to help you compare the annual energy use or efficiency of competing brands and similar models. Look for the distinctive yellow-and-black label on clothes washers, dishwashers, refrigerator/freezers and water heaters, as well as on home heating and cooling equipment. Some appliances - like clothes dryers, kitchen ranges, and microwave ovens - are exempt from the labeling rule. That's because there is little difference in energy use between the different models. If you don't see a label, ask a salesperson for the information.

Shopping Strategy

  1. Decide on the size and style. Measure the space the appliance will occupy to be sure your new purchase will fit. It may determine the capacity and style you buy. Make sure, too, that you will have enough room to open the door or lid fully and enough clearance for ventilation.

  2. Know where to shop. Appliance outlets, electronics stores, and local retailers may carry different brands and models. Factors to consider include the selection available, price, reputation or reliability, and warranties.

  3. Decide on key features--and what to spend. Generally, the larger and more deluxe the appliance, the higher the sticker price. Look for the best combination of performance, efficiency, convenience, and price that you can afford. What features will you need today? Five years from now?

  4. Compare the performance of different brands and models. Ask your salesperson for the manufacturer's product literature. Learn what each feature is designed to do and decide which are essential for you. Ask questions about how they operate: How much noise does it make? What safety features does it have? How energy efficient is it? How much water does it use? What is the repair history on this brand or model?

  5. Estimate how much the energy use will cost. Appliances that use more energy cost more to operate. Since these products are designed to last 10-20 years, the differences on your monthly energy bill can add up. Check your utility bill for energy costs in your area. Use the EnergyGuide to compare the energy use of different models.

  6. Ask about special energy efficiency offers. Ask your local utility or salesperson whether there are cash rebates, low interest loans, or other incentive programs in your area for buying energy efficient products--and how you can qualify. Additional savings could be just a few, easy steps away.

  7. Resist high-pressure sales tactics. Don't make a purchase decision until you think you understand your choices and the trade-offs you're making.

Lowering Your Monthly Energy Bill

Being an energy-smart consumer means getting the most from the energy you use. Here are some ways to cut energy waste without sacrificing comfort or convenience.

  • Move the refrigerator if it is currently located near the stove, dishwasher or heat vents. Vacuum the coils every three months; dirt build-up makes the machine work harder to keep contents cool. Check the door gaskets for air leaks. If ice buildup in the freezer is more than 1/4 inch thick, defrost.

  • Scrape but don't pre-rinse your dishes by hand if you have a dishwasher that automatically pre-rinses or has a rinse/hold cycle. Machines with these features are designed to dispose of all food particles. Using the "energy saver" option found on many machines can reduce the energy needed to wash a load dishes. Save time and water.

  • Preheat your oven only when the recipe calls for it and turn off the oven shortly before the recipe suggests. The heat in the oven can finish the job.

  • Cook in pots that fit the size of your stove top burners to cut energy waste. Using lids on your pots and pans means you can lower the temperatures and reduce the energy used.

  • Match the water level and temperature settings on your clothes washer to the size of your load. Don't fill the tub for just a few small items. Follow the manufacturer's directions for other for other energy saving hints.

  • Remember to clean clothes dryer filters after each use or as necessary.

  • Lower the temperature setting on your water heater. Many thermostats are preset at the factory at 140 degrees. Lowering it to 120 degrees will save you 15 percent of your water heating energy.

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