Energy Efficient Appliances: Are They Worth the Investment?
Trying to save money while lessening your impact on the environment is a popular trend these days. Choosing to purchase energy-efficient appliances is one way to save green while going green. But are these appliances all they’re promising to be?
The Pros and Cons
Frankly, there is no easy answer. Appliances have increased their energy efficiency steadily over time, while generally not increasing in price at the same pace. So why pay more for an appliance labeled “energy efficient”? The immediate cost of purchasing a house full of new energy-efficient appliances is just not practical for most people, especially in this economy.
Plus, a study by Consumer Reports found that many people don’t use their appliances correctly, which can actually mean they spend more money because they need to run the dishwasher twice to get the dishes clean. Following directions and adhering to manufacturers’ recommendations is critical to enjoying savings from energy-efficient models.
You should also be aware that most of the highly touted tax advantages of purchasing energy-efficient large appliances have expired. In addition, if you’re not planning to be in the home for a number of years, you won’t have a chance to recoup the significant initial outlay that many of these items require.
However, if you remain in the home for a number of years and you are able to save 10 percent per year on your energy costs, over time you’ll be saving thousands of dollars. When you do decide to sell your home, you’ll have newer appliances that will be attractive to a potential borrower, plus you can promote the energy savings of those appliances — two big selling points. In addition, many energy-efficient products are among the highest quality appliances available.
The Environmental Protection Agency started the Energy Star program in 1992, covering computers and monitors. In 1996 the EPA and the Department of Energy teamed up to expand the Energy Star program as a voluntary labeling system to promote energy efficiency and environmental awareness and reduce greenhouse gas for a wide range of products. You can now find the Energy Star label on more than 60 types of products, as well as home assessment tools to determine your home energy efficiency. Energy Star-labeled products must meet strict energy efficiency guidelines. Visit energystar.gov to learn more about the program.
If You Decide to Purchase
If you decide to start shopping for energy-efficient home appliances, here are some tips to help you make the best decision for your needs.
- Check local rebates and offers. Many areas offer discounts and rebates when you purchase energy efficient equipment. You can check http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?fuseaction=rebate.rebate_locator to see what money-saving offers exist in your zip code.
- Measure your space. Some models may be larger than your current appliances. Make sure you know how much room you have and how much is needed to open a door or for ventilation.
- Weigh purchase price and energy usage. You may actually find that the models that are more expensive initially will provide greater savings over time.
- Use the Energy Guide label as a guide. Nearly all appliances except microwaves, stoves and dryers have this label. The information on the label will help you compare across different brands and models.
- Check for an Energy Star logo. These items must meet strict standards of efficiency and may save you up to a third of your current energy bill when used properly.
Save money, increase the comfort of your home, reduce your carbon footprint: if you can afford the initial outlay and plan to stay in your home for a longer period of time, replacing your current appliance with more energy-efficient models may be the right choice for you!