Appliance Upgrades to Give the Most Bang for Your Buck

A eco-friendly dishwasher with someone pressing a button on the front.

Are you in the middle of a remodel? Has one of your home appliances failed on you? If you're looking into upgrading one, or some, of your home appliances, you might want to consider an energy efficient appliance upgrade. When you purchase a new appliance, it comes with two price tags: the cost of the product and the cost to run the product. Energy efficient appliances use less energy than older appliances, which makes them cheaper to operate and is better for your wallet and the environment.

Energy Standards

In the United States, The Department of Energy sets minimum energy efficiency standards for numerous appliances. This means that manufacturers must make sure that their appliances fall within The Department of Energy guidelines. However, some manufacturers have gone above and beyond those energy guidelines.

You may have heard of the company Energy Star, or noticed the Energy Star logo on certain appliances. The Energy Star logo can be found on air conditioners, dishwashers, refrigerators, and clothes washers and dryers. When an appliance receives an Energy Star rating, it means it's significantly more energy efficient than the minimum government standards. If you are going to replace an appliance, it makes sense to look for an Energy Star model. In the long run, you’ll save more money on your electric bill.

Appliances to Definitely Replace

Depending on the type of appliance you have and its age, it may or may not make sense to replace it with an energy efficient model. You’ll need to factor in the cost of the new appliance and how much you’ll save annually on your electric bill. You might also want to consider whether or not you care about your energy consumption and its impact on the environment.

Washing Machine

A washing machine in a laundry room.

If you have a washing machine that is a top loader and upwards of five to ten years old or more, it likely makes sense to replace it. Newer front loading models use significantly less water and energy, so you’ll save on both your water and electric bill. But you’ll also want to consider how often you do laundry. If you use your washing machine daily or several times a week and your machine is older, you should look into upgrading.

Refrigerator and Freezer

If your refrigerator is more than 20 years old, replacing it with a new energy efficient model is worth it. If you are replacing two smaller refrigerators with a larger and more energy efficient one, that’s probably worth it as well.

If your refrigerator is on the younger side, check the seals to make sure they are still operating correctly. Leaky seals waste energy and can increase your electric bill.

There are also energy efficient stand-alone freezers, but the real question is: do you need one? Keeping an extra appliance around that you rarely use adds to your electric bill. If you need a stand-alone freezer, consider a smaller version. Bigger means you are paying more for energy you might not need.

Appliances to Consider Replacing

Air Conditioner

An air conditioner outside a house.

Energy Star model air conditioners use about 15% less energy than the average air conditioner. If your air conditioner is on the older side, replacing it with an Energy Star model might be worth it. However, your money might be better spent on servicing your existing unit or upgrading the insulation in your home.


While dishwashers have seen great strides in energy efficiency, it may or may not be worth it to replace yours now. The savings might not make up for the cost of a new machine. Consider a dishwasher upgrade if your current dishwasher is on the older side and/or you use your dishwasher frequently.

Clothes Dryer

While energy efficient models use less electricity, dryers haven’t changed much in the last decade. It’s unlikely that an upgrade will pay for itself. Just make sure that you keep the lint trap clean to boost drying efficiency.

The bottom line is that energy efficient appliance upgrades will save you money on your electric bill and are better for the environment. However, if finances are a consideration, you need to determine whether those savings offset the cost of the appliance over time.