Appliance Purchases: Know the Energy Guide and Save Money

by Gina Blitstein · 0 comments

Buying new appliances can be confusing. Most come with so many features that it’s difficult to choose among different brands and models. Besides such factors as the product’s features, appearance, size and performance rating, there’s the matter of its energy consumption to consider. Over the life of an appliance, this factor can be one that matters more than any other because it equates to the amount it will cost to operate.

A strong indicator of the amount of energy an appliance will use is prominently displayed on those bright yellow (yet somehow easily disregarded) Energy Guide stickers attached to new appliances. According to the Federal Trade Commission, these appliances are required to display Energy Guide labels:

  • clothes washers
  • dishwashers
  • refrigerators
  • freezers
  • water heaters
  • window air conditioners
  • central air conditioners
  • furnaces
  • boilers
  • heat pumps
  • pool heaters

What is an Energy Guide?

The information displayed on an energy guide label identifies the specific product, its main features and an estimate of its yearly electricity use. The number displayed prominently near the center is an approximation of the appliance’s operating costs over the course of a year. Since it bases that dollar amount on a standard rate of use, the appliance’s energy consumption and the national average cost of energy, your actual cost could vary depending upon your use and local energy cost. The Energy Guide puts that amount in perspective by showing it where it appears within the high-to-low range of operating costs of similar models. Because that yearly cost figure is calculated by the same criteria on all similar appliances, it provides another useful bit of information to use when comparing models to purchase.

Energy costs are updated on Energy Guides every five years. Bear in mind, rather than a guarantee of your actual energy cost, the Energy Guide provides a standard by which to compare one appliance to another, enabling you to factor-in energy cost into your purchasing decision.

EnergyStar – An Extra Measure of Energy Efficiency

One more thing you may see displayed on an Energy Guide label is a blue Energy Star logo. Energy Star is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy dedicated to promoting savings on on energy costs and protecting the environment by encouraging energy efficient products and practices. Products which have met specific energy-saving standards are eligible to bear an Energy Star label. Among those products are major appliances, office equipment, lighting, home electronics and even home improvement/replacement products.

The Energy Star website, explains how products become Energy Star rated:

  • Products can earn the ENERGY STAR label by meeting the energy efficiency requirements set forth in ENERGY STAR product specifications. EPA establishes these specifications based on the following set of key guiding principles:
  • Product categories must contribute significant energy savings nationwide.
  • Qualified products must deliver the features and performance demanded by consumers, in addition to increased energy efficiency.
  • If the qualified product costs more than a conventional, less-efficient counterpart, purchasers will recover their investment in increased energy efficiency through utility bill savings, within a reasonable period of time.
  • Energy efficiency can be achieved through broadly available, non-proprietary technologies offered by more than one manufacturer.
  • Product energy consumption and performance can be measured and verified with testing.
  • Labeling would effectively differentiate products and be visible for purchasers.

There’s more to a wise appliance purchase than the initial outlay. Using energy efficiency as a determining factor in appliance purchases makes good sense. Energy efficiency is good for more than the environment – it’s good for our budgets.

Do you take note of the Energy Guide information when purchasing appliances?

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