What Makes an Appliance “Energy Efficient”?

In today’s age, we are all quite familiar with the very real and devastating impact of climate change, and it has become exceedingly important for all of us to be a little more mindful about our actions. If you’re anything like us, you’re constantly looking for ways to cut back on your electricity usage and reduce your overall carbon footprint.

One thing that may help you achieve this goal is to consider investing in energy efficient appliances. By using energy efficient appliances, you can ensure that you are getting an energy efficient fridge, energy efficient dryer, energy efficient water heater, and many other appliances and products that will help you save money and energy.

What exactly makes an appliance energy efficient?

As explained by the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI), the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) implements minimum efficiency standards for many appliances utilized in both residential and commercial buildings. The Energy Policy and Conservation Act authorizes DOE to enforce appliance and equipment standards. The Department’s Office of Enforcement verifies that products sold in the United States meet the energy and water conservation standards. Certification, compliance, and enforcement regulations for these products and equipment are published in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).

Other important strategies and policies that make buildings and building products more energy efficient include building codes, tax credits, utility rebates, industry product promotions, and award or certification programs, such as Energy Star for example. Energy Star is a voluntary program administered jointly by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and DOE to promote products and buildings that are even more energy efficient than those that meet the minimum federal standards. Energy Star qualified products are the same or better than standard products, only they use less energy.

 Benefits of Having an Energy Efficient Appliance

  • Save on Energy Usage – Although energy efficient appliances are likely to have a higher initial cost, they will generally help you use less electricity long term. Depending on how old your current appliances are, upgrading your old appliances can have a significant impact on your monthly usage, which we will discuss more in the next section of this blog post.
  • Earn Potential Tax Credits – In addition to using less electricity throughout the month, some Energy Star products allow you to receive tax credits. Certain retailers even offer tax-free purchase periods, depending on the state. 
  • Reduce Your Environmental Impact – Reducing your energy usage helps lower your carbon footprint by lowering the emissions from power plants.

 How Much Can You Save?

When it comes to energy efficient appliances, do energy efficient appliances (specifically, Energy Star appliances) really save money? The honest answer is that it depends. If your current refrigerator and other appliances are over a decade old, they weren’t created with the same energy standard requirements as new appliances and probably aren’t running as efficiently as they could.

You can expect to see some significant savings when you replace it with an energy efficient model. However, replacing appliances that are only a few years old (even if they’re not Energy Star appliances) probably won’t lead to a dramatic decrease in your monthly energy bill by purchasing new ones.

While most new appliances can save you money on utility bills, there are some that can save you more than others. Washers, dryers, dehumidifiers, air conditioners, and air purifiers all tend to have higher monthly savings than dishwashers, refrigerators, and freezers. Here are some examples of how much more efficient these appliances are than standard appliances. 

  • Qualified refrigerators are at least 15% more efficient than the minimum federal efficiency standard.
  • Qualified light bulbs (CFLs) use two-thirds less energy than a standard incandescent bulb and must meet additional operating and reliability guidelines.
  • Office equipment that qualifies automatically enters a low-power “sleep” mode after a period of inactivity.
  • Qualified furnaces offer a rating of 90% AFUE or greater, which is about 15% more efficient than the minimum federal efficiency standard. 
  • Qualified TVs consume 3 watts or less when switched off, compared to a standard TV, which consumes almost 6 watts on average.

If all your appliances are Energy Star certified and running efficiently, there is a potential savings of over $100 per year and up to $600 over the course of 5 years. In 2014 alone, consumers using Energy Star products prevented more than 300 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions and saved homes and businesses $34 billion in utility costs. 

If every appliance purchased in the United States this year earned the Energy Star, we would save more than 1.3 billion kWh/year of electricity.  It would amount to $425 million in annual energy costs, and more than 28 billion gallons of water per year.

 Steps to Choosing Your Appliances

If you’re considering replacing your outdated appliances with new energy efficient appliances, there are some factors that you must consider prior to shopping. Some things to look for and do before purchasing your new energy efficient appliance.

  1. Check the Label – As you look around at new appliances, make sure you check for the “Energy Star” label to ensure you’re getting the most energy efficiency possible for your money. You should also make sure you check the yellow EnergyGuide label on the appliance so you can compare energy savings between different models. Just because it’s an Energy Star appliance, doesn’t mean it’s the most energy efficient appliance in its category.
  2. Determine the Size – Bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better, especially when it comes to shopping for a new appliance. Wasted space is also wasted energy. An oversized air conditioner, water heater, or refrigerator will end up costing you more on your utility bills and be less environmentally friendly. 

You should determine the size of the appliance you really need in your home and purchase new appliances that suit your needs. 

Here are some things to keep in mind for different household appliances.

  •     Fridge: The size of your fridge depends on how many people are in your home, how much you like to cook, and how often you entertain. A 14-cubic-foot model is usually a perfect fit for a family of 4. If you have a bigger family, you’ll probably need a bigger fridge. Although a bigger fridge uses more energy, it’s still cheaper to run one big fridge rather than two smaller fridges.
  •     Air Conditioner: Like all of your appliances, your cooling system should also be the right size. Determine the square footage you need to cool and purchase an air conditioner that is the perfect fit.
  •     Water Heater: The size of your water heater is based on how many bathrooms you have in your home. To save the most money, ensure your water heater is not too large or too small for your household needs.
  •     Washing Machine: If you have a small home, you might consider purchasing a smaller washing machine. However, if you have a large family or you do lots of loads, a small machine probably won’t work for you. Whatever size you choose, make sure you can adjust water level and temperature and that there is a fast spin to reduce drying time.
  •     Dishwasher: Look for dishwashers that have energy saving cycles and ones that use fans rather than heating coils to dry dishes.

 Protect your Appliances with Kiwi Guard

As you’ve hopefully learned, you can help create a sustainable energy future by using the most energy efficient appliances and products available. Ensuring that the items you rely on on a daily basis are protected is also important. That’s why Kiwi Energy partnered with Cinch Home Services in order to introduce a new level of home protection. 

All of us, particularly now, spend a lot of time at home, both working and relaxing with our loved ones. Whether you live in a house or an apartment, your home isn’t just a place of shelter, but it’s also a place of comfort, and the key to maintaining a comfortable environment in your home is protection that best suits your needs. The Cinch Home Protection Plan doesn’t just work to keep your home a comfortable place, but it gives you peace of mind.

When you enroll with Kiwi Energy for electricity or natural gas, Kiwi Guard gives you the option to choose what you want to protect. You can choose HVAC protection, Surge Protection, and Plumbing Protection. Contact Kiwi Energy today if you’re interested in learning about our innovative energy plans, including Kiwi Guard