Are Energy Efficient Appliances Worth the Investment?
For homeowners looking for ways to save money, upgrading to energy-efficient appliances might be a hot topic of consideration. However, many might question if the decrease in a monthly electric bill will offset the premium paid to acquire a new energy-efficient appliance. So, is the investment worth it? Read on to find out!
What are energy-efficient appliances?
Energy-efficient appliances — labeled in the U.S. as ENERGY STAR certified — are appliances that go through rigorous testing to demonstrate their efficiency over standard appliance models. Certified energy-efficient appliances will help you save on your electric bill, though the exact amount is dependent on several factors. Generally, efficient models will use somewhere between 10 to 50% less energy than their non-efficient counterparts. If you are looking to save money, replacing all of your old appliances at once is likely not in the cards. So, it’s important to identify where you can create the most savings. Consider these first:
The best energy-efficient appliances to invest in:
Clothes Dryers — Looking to save money on your energy bills? Your clothes dryer is probably the first place to look. The Natural Resources Defense Council says that dryers use as much energy annually as a new refrigerator, washing machine, and dishwasher combined! While air-drying clothes is the most low-cost option, new clothes dryers use innovation to work more efficiently. For example, reverse tumble cycles, along with improved air circulation within the drum, allow clothes to move more freely and dry more quickly. Update sensors detect moisture levels and temperature to reduce cycle times and eliminate wasted energy.
Refrigerators — That old refrigerator in your pantry or garage is likely costing you more money than necessary. Old refrigerators can be some of the most inefficient appliances thanks to their outdated cooling and lighting systems. Newer refrigerators generally have better insulation and improved insulation to help maintain an even temperature. So in addition to keeping your food fresher, they will also keep your wallet fuller. (Pro tip: when shopping for a refrigerator, consider models with a freezer on top or bottom. They tend to use 10-15% less energy than side-by-side models.)
Dishwashers — If your dishwasher is the workhorse of your kitchen, make sure it’s an energy-efficient model. A dishwasher that is more than 20 years old could be wasting more than 10 gallons of water during every cycle. Newer and energy-efficient models will have strategically designed dish racks and soil sensors that will adjust the power of cleaning the cycle for each load so that no energy is wasted.
Is a new dishwasher not in the budget? Make sure you are running full loads as often as possible since your older model is likely using the same amount of water and energy no matter how full it is. And turn off that heat dry cycle. Air drying won’t cost you a penny.
Washing Machines — Energy efficient washing machines work to save you money in two key ways: water usage and spin cycle power. By requiring less water — and in turn, heating less water — energy-efficient models can save you up to 25%. Not to mention, the increased power of the spin cycle can pull more water from your clothes which makes them dry faster.
Smart Thermostats — Having a smart thermostat is key to monitoring the energy usage of your home’s heating and cooling system. Smart thermostats keep energy costs lower by learning a homeowner's schedule and maintaining balanced temperatures throughout the day. They can help to ensure that your HVAC system is not running during working hours and that all rooms in a house remain at comfortable temperatures.
Okay, but will these save me real money?
Short answer: YES. While your savings may seem small on a month-to-month basis, just consider the lifespan of your appliances and suddenly the savings grow exponentially. Since your typical household appliance will last 10-20 years, the lifetime savings associated with a more energy-efficient machine is no trivial amount. But you don’t have to take our word for it. The U.S. Department of Energy has energy- and cost-savings calculators for energy-efficient products that can help you estimate your savings.
If you need help estimating your current energy usage, you may want to also consider installing a home energy monitoring system. PowerX is an easy-to-install, non-invasive sensor that will monitor your home’s electricity, water, and water heater usage to give you clear and precise insight into which appliances are consuming the most energy. This knowledge alone can easily save you up to $1,000 on your annual utility bills.