Understanding high efficiency appliances is a bit of a gamble. You think you know what you are buying but once you are in the store, you realize that rather than comparing apples to apples, you are probably comparing apples to kittens. To guide you through this maze – and get you out of the clutches of the fast-talking sales associate – here are some commonly asked high-efficiency appliance questions and their answers.
Q: The clothes washer that I want to buy has an Energy Star label. This means it is a high-efficiency machine, right?
A: Wrong! The Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE) proves that the Energy Star rating is just a beginning. Just how many cubic feet of laundry can one kWh of electricity wash and dry? Federally mandated standards call for 1.26 while Energy Star demands 2.00. The three-tier CEE system goes as high as 2.40. This proves that the Energy Star label is a nice beginning but not the final destination on the road to superior efficiency.
Q: Does the size of a high-efficiency appliance have an impact on my savings?
A: Indeed, it does. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) recognizes that the efficiency of appliances is tied directly to their various sizes. Any appliance that is too big for your needs does not properly function or deliver the energy savings that you expect. In the alternative, a small high-efficiency washer will not save you any money if you spend your weekends doing 10 loads of laundry. Find a larger model that cuts the number of loads in half – or reduces them even further – to realize the savings.
Q: Do two smaller high-efficiency appliances equal the savings realized by one big appliance?
A: Interestingly, they do not. For example, although a large refrigerator will use more energy than a small one, two small refrigerators – that have the same volume as the large fridge – still consume more electricity. Buying the right size for your family is of the utmost importance.
Q: Why are there so many options on high-efficiency washers?
A: The number of options is the key to unleashing the true effectiveness of the machine. Whereas the old washers pretty much dictated the temperature, amount of water and length of the cleaning cycle, the most efficient appliances give you the power of input. If you are washing lightly soiled clothes that you have soaked in water and detergent, you probably will not need a full hot wash cycle. A shortened warm or cold wash cycle should suffice.
Q: I know that using regular laundry detergent in my high-efficiency washing machine leads to too much sudsing. Can I just reduce the amount of detergent?
A: No. Although it sounds logical, Tide – one of the manufacturers of HE detergents – warns that cutting in half the recommended dosage of detergent actually leads to a reduction in cleaning agents. If you incur the expense of buying a high-efficiency washer, go ahead and invest in the proper detergents as well.