Household appliances account for the majority of home energy use, and therefore make up the bulk of the power bill. If these items are out-dated, they can be even more costly to run. While the initial investment to replace older models can be expensive, the savings usually far outweigh the cost, especially considering the 10-20-year lifetime of most major appliances. Here are 10 appliances you should upgrade to help cut your power bill.
Look for the ENERGY STAR Label
While it may sound and look like a brand name, the ENERGY STAR label means an appliance has been approved according to the American Environmental Protection Agency's standards of energy efficiency. Buying ENERGY STAR appliances will ensure that you're purchasing a product that not only helps prevent greenhouse gas emissions, but saves you money on your home or business utility costs.
The clothes dryer is the biggest energy consumer in the house, eating up more kilowatts than a refrigerator, washing machine, and dishwasher combined. Upgrading to an ENERGY STAR model can save you around $20 a year and approximately $250 over its lifetime, as they use 20 percent less energy than older models. Plus, they usually feature advanced options like heat sensors, saving you money and reducing wear and tear on your clothes.
Upgrading your washing machine can also add up to huge savings, as ENERGY STAR models use 40-50% less electricity, and 55% less water than outdated washing machines. Expect savings of around $50 a year on the water and utility bill, and a little extra on detergent if you purchase a front-loader since they use less soap. Many stores will have deals on buying a washer and dryer pair so you can reap the most rewards of your upgrade.
Upgrading your fridge can reap huge savings on energy costs—just think, it’s constantly running! While ENERGY STAR fridge’s use around 40 percent less energy than older ones, annual savings will depend on what you upgrade to and from. Freezer-top models save the most (around 10-25 percent less energy than a side or bottom freezer), automatic ice makers and dispensers are huge energy guzzlers, and buying the proper size for your needs is important. Also, make sure to remove or upcycle the old fridge—turning it into a basement or garage “beer” fridge negates any savings from your upgrade. Check to see if there are any local or state rebates for recycling your older model.
While dishwashers don’t use as much energy as a fridge or dryer, they’re used on a regular basis, consuming both electricity and hot water to run. An ENERGY STAR upgrade can save you around $25 a year—these models are about 12 percent more efficient than older ones, cutting water and electricity costs. Plus, newer models come with some fancy features like a third rack or special jets to wash inside reusable water bottles!
Microwaves, Ovens, and Ranges
There is no ENERGY STAR label for residential microwaves, ovens, or stoves and ranges (there are for commercial ovens). That said, upgrading to newer models can still save you money when trading out an older model. Though the cost of gas across the country may be cheaper than electricity, electric stove-tops are more energy-efficient, since they put almost 75 percent of energy used towards cooking. A gas stove-top uses closer to 40 percent. Induction stove tops are the best option, using 60% less energy than an electric stove, while cooling food faster.
Range Hoods/ Ventilating Fans
While ranges may not have ENERGY STAR ratings, their corresponding fans and hoods do! Upgraded models use around 60 percent less energy, which translates into about $60 of savings over the fan’s lifespan. It may not seem like a ton, but every little bit counts. Plus, newer models are quieter and perform better at eliminating unwanted smells and moisture when you’re cooking.
Central Air Conditioners
ENERGY STAR central air conditioners have what’s called a higher “SEER” (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) rating than non-labelled products, and are around 14 percent more energy efficient. ENERGY STAR room air conditioners are around 10 percent more efficient than non-certified models, and they are measured by “EER” (Energy Efficiency Rating). The higher the SEER or EER rating, the more efficient the air conditioner. Savings will depend on how much you use the appliance and what kind of climate you live in, but will add up no matter how often the unit is run.
Upgrading to a high efficiency furnace can save you up to $20 a month depending on where you live, and how much you have to heat your house—those savings are for an average sized home in wintertime. No matter what your heating needs are, most of the newer ENERGY STAR models have an annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) rating of around 98, whereas older furnaces are closer to an 80 AFUE rating, meaning an upgrade is sure to save you money almost instantly.
Boiler efficiency is also measured by (AFUE), and most ENERGY STAR products are around 87 or higher for oil boilers, and 90 or more for gas ones. Note—while an all-electric boiler has a near-perfect AFUE of between 95 and 100, they're less economic to use, since electricity costs are more expensive.
Like your refrigerator, most water heaters are constantly in use for various household needs, and are the second highest energy user. There are five main types of water heaters—heat pump, solar water, condensing, tankless, and the storage tank water heater, which is the most common. Upgrading any of these to an ENERGY STAR model will save you money. However, for most household applications, the tankless water heater is the best option. It only heats water when needed, saving a medium sized family around $100 annually and close to $2,000 over the lifespan of the appliance, in comparison to the storage tank. An extra bonus is the savings in space, as their compact design can be installed directly onto a wall.
This appliance can be another big energy sucker, depending on how much you need it. For wet basements or humid climates, they can be indispensable, but running one constantly will hike up your utility bill. Upgrading to an ENERGY STAR model will suck up the same amount of moisture while using 30 percent less energy, thanks to more effective refrigeration coils, compressors, and fans.
Upgrading your household appliances can be an expensive endeavor upfront, but the takeaway is that they end up saving you money in the long run, especially if you upgrade to an ENERGY STAR product. Always check for local or state programs that reward homeowners’ energy-efficient purchases with special rebates. These often include bonuses for the proper disposal or recycling of an older appliance. By upgrading any or all of these 10 appliances, you can cut your power bill almost instantly.