Your daily habits can affect how much energy you use in your home, but having green appliances can make a considerable difference in the amount of electricity, gas, and water your household consumes. There are a number of manufacturers turning out specialized energy-saving products and major home appliances these days, so you have your pick of brands to go with. But here are some of the general rules of thumb when shopping for the most effective energy-conserving domestic devices.
Let’s start with the refrigerator, since it is the biggest energy consumer of all home appliances. Refrigerators with all the bells and whistles are all-the-rage in modern kitchen outfitting, however, you may be interested to know that all the extra perks are costing you! That cool automatic ice dispenser and on the outside of the freezer door is pretty handy, but it also expends additional energy to use. Side-by-side refrigerator/freezer models are a popular choice, but guess what? That old-fashioned top-freezer style is actually more energy efficient–and fridges between 16 and 20 cubic feet are the best to get.
When it comes to selecting a dishwasher, the most important factor to look at is how much water it uses. Just for a guideline, conventional dishwashers typically use about 12 gallons of water per cycle, while a water-conserving model will generally use around four gallons. Dishwashers also use up energy heating up water (to 140℉) in order to properly clean your dishes. So dishwashers with a booster heater will help reduce the amount of energy needed to operate the washer. The booster will add a little extra to the price of the appliance (maybe $30 or so), but the long-term savings in energy bills will more than pay for the nominal upfront expense. ENERGY STAR, a prominent name in energy efficient appliances, says their dishwashers are 40% more efficient than regular designs.
For the most energy efficient washing machine, you should select a model with settings that allow you to adjust the water level (load size), length of the cycle (heavy vs. light wash), and water temperature (cold, cold/warm, or hot). It is best to wash fewer large loads as opposed to washing a bunch of smaller loads, but having the option will prevent unnecessary water usage when you only have a few garments to launder. And using cold water is always more efficient than hot because the machine doesn’t have to expend energy heating the water. Also, a washer with a fast spin speed does a better job getting excess water out of the clothes which leads to a shorter drying time. Front-loading or horizontal axis machines are the top energy savers as they have high-speed spin cycles and they use around two-thirds less water and energy than traditional upright models.