New appliances can save energy – and money

By Paula Felps

Today’s home appliances don’t just do more than ever before, they also add a sleek, stylish dimension to your kitchen or laundry room. But did you know they can also save you money? Buying a new, more energy-efficient model can offer savings that can help offset the purchase price.

For example, contemporary dishwashers use one-third less water than their older counterparts – and they also consume less energy. In fact, if your dishwasher was manufactured before 1994, you’re paying about $40 more every year on energy than you would with a new model.

“There are several ways to save money on appliances,” says Tara Gudger, a spokesperson for Lowe’s Home Improvement stores. “For example, there are an estimated 76 million top-loading washers with agitators, 25 million of which are at least 10 years old, still in use across the country.” Washers manufactured before 1998 are significantly less efficient than newer models, and Gudger says this inefficiency adds up, costing consumers an estimated $2.8 billion each year in energy and water.

Spend to Save

While buying new appliances will initially require a cash outlay, the overall cost may actually be less because of the water and energy saved. The key to saving money with new appliances lies in knowing which features are important and which ones you don’t truly need.  The first tip, according to Gudger, is to always look for the Energy Star label.

“Those products are designed to save energy and, ultimately, money,” she says. For example, an EnergyStar refrigerator will use 15 percent less energy than those not bearing the Energy Star label – and that can cut about $80 off your energy bills over the life of the refrigerator. Gudger recommends looking for these features to save money on other appliances:

Dishwasher: Consider buying a dishwasher with sensor technology that allows them to detect how dirty the dishes are, then adjust the cycle accordingly. This prevents water from being wasted. You can also use a delay-start timer feature to begin the dishwasher at off-peak times, when energy rates are at their lowest.

Microwave: There are currently no Energy Star microwaves on the market, but you can still find ways to save. Look for a microwave with variable power settings and on/off controls; this will allow you to improve cooking performance and time – while also using less energy.

Washing machine: When shopping for a new clothes washer, look for one with a high spin cycle, which will reduce the amount of time needed in the dryer – and therefore will ultimately use less energy. Keep in mind that Energy Star-qualified clothes washers use about 35 percent less water and 20 percent less energy than typical machines.

Dryer: According to Energy Star, the government program doesn’t rate clothes dryers because there’s little difference in the energy use between models. But look for a moisture-sensor cycle, which lets the machine know when the clothes are dry instead of continuing to tumble them around until the timed cycle is complete. The added advantage? Less wear and tear on your clothes!

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