In 2011, an average family in the U.S. used about 940 kWh of electricity each month with appliances and heating the home’s water accounting for more than a fourth of the energy usage. If your goal is to reduce energy usage and cost, upgrading your water heater or major appliances with high efficiency ones — those with Energy Star labels — can result in significant long-term savings.
Since heating a home’s water supply is the second largest utility expense for your home, upgrading or replacing an older model can quickly pay off. Even though the federal tax credit of $300 for units with an Energy Factor ≥ 0.82 or a thermal efficiency of at least 90 percent expired at the end of 2013, you may be eligible for state tax credits or utility rebates. When shopping for a water heater, the two numbers to watch are the First-Hour Rating (FHR) and the Energy Factor (EF). If you choose to go with an on-demand system, then you also need a strong Gallons Per Minute (GPM) number.
To achieve the most lifetime savings, choose a water heater with the following standards.
- Electric: EF >= 2.0 and FHR >= 50 gallons per hour
- Natural Gas: EF >= 0.67 and FHR >= 67 gallons per hour
- Gas on Demand: EF >= 0.82 and GPM >= 2.5 over a 77° rise
Washer & Dryer
When shopping for a dryer, it is actually more energy efficient to use a natural gas one, but, if like most Americans you use an electric version — you actually cannot purchase an Energy Star dryer. Energy Star does not rate dryers because there is minimal differences between types. You can lower energy consumption, though, by using models with moisture sensing controls.
Dryer prototypes, such as models with heats pumps, are being investigated as potential Energy Star candidates. Fortunately, washers do come with Energy Star ratings. To achieve the most lifetime savings with your washer, choose a washer with a:
- MEF (Modified Energy Factor) ≥ 2.0 and,
- WF (Water Factor) ≤ 6.0
Refrigerator & Freezer
Under the Energy Star standards, refrigerators are required to be 20% more efficient than minimal federal standards and freezers are 10% more efficient. If either of the appliances are more than 10 years old, you can expect to see significant long-term savings if you replace them with high efficiency units.
More Ways to Save
Even though the dishwasher will not offer the lifetime savings that other HE appliances provide, if you need to replace it, you will save with a Energy Star model. Once you have upgraded your appliances, consider moving on to your home’s lighting. Lighting accounts for 12 percent of your annual utility bill.