Have you checked appliance ads lately? A washing machine can cost as much as $1,000, which is more than an appliance purchase, it is an investment in the future. Consumers qualify for rebates if they buy an energy-efficient appliance and follow the rebate guidelines. My husband and I purchased a new dishwasher. To quality for the rebate, we had to fill out a form and supply a purchase receipt.
The electric company gave us our rebate by deducting the amount from our bill. This made me wonder about the Energy Star rating. What is it and how does a manufacturer get it? I also wondered about the energy standards manufacturers have to meet in order to get this rating. The standards may be grouped into several broad categories.
Power source is the first standard. The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) recommends gas appliances over electric ones. ‘Usually it’s more efficient to burn natural gas where it’s needed — in your home — than to burn it at a power plant, convert the heat to electricity and then send the electricity over wires to your house.” This statement comes from the NRDC website.
Design is another standards, according to “Energy Efficient Appliances,” an article on the Sustainable Sources website. Washing machines are a good example. Top-loading machines are not as efficient as front-loaders, according to the article, and a front-loader can save you 50 percent in energy and water costs.
Size can also be a standard. Which size refrigerator is the most efficient? The Sustainable Sources website says it is the 16-20 cubic food size. Consumers should choose the right size for the job. Before you buy an appliance you should measure the space and the protrusion. “Oversized air conditioners, water heaters and refrigerators waste and energy and money,” the website says.
Improved insulation. “How a Product Earns the Energy Star Label,” an article on the Energy Star website, cites insulation as a standard. Modern refrigerators have improved insulation, according to the article, and a refrigerator with the freezer on top is more energy-efficient than a side-by-side model.
Many consumers, especially those who live in the Southwestern part of the US, are concerned about water conservation. Some modern washing machines have a “suds saver” setting that allows the consumer to reuse slightly soiled water. Consumers also have the option of washing small, medium, or large loads, which saves water.
Special features are yet another standard. For example, dishwashers with booster heaters and no heat dry settings are more efficient than dishwashers without these features. New clothes dryers allow consumers to air their clothes and linens without using heat.
Finally, the Energy Star rating is the best standard. Manufacturers meet these US Government standards by making appliances that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and make it easier for consumers to identify these products. In order to receive an Energy Star rating the product must reduce energy costs, have measurable energy-saving features, and labels that help consumers.
Consider all of these factors before you buy a new appliance. Energy-efficient appliances may cost more, but you save money over time. Ask if the store has any special offers, such as a low-interest loan, and watch for holiday promotions. You should also read the energy label carefully.
Copyright 2010 by Harriet Hodgson
Harriet Hodgson has been an independent journalist for decades. She is a member of the American Society of Journlists and Authors, Association of Health Care Journalists, and Association for Death Education and Counseling. Her 24th book, “Smiling Through Your Tears: Anticipating Grief,” written with Lois Krahn, MD is available from Amazon.
Centering Corporation has published her 26th book, “Writing to Recover: The Journey from Loss and Grief to a New Life” and a companion journal with 100 writing prompts. Hodgson is a montly columnist for “Caregiving in America” magazine. Please visit her website and learn more about this busy author and grandmother.