Choose Kitchen Appliances That Save
Federal law requires that a bright yellow EnergyGuide tag be attached to many home appliances, including refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, and clothes washers. The EnergyGuide tag provides an estimate of how much the energy to operate a particular appliance will cost. The tag also shows a range of energy use, from the lowest rated to the highest, for appliances of comparable size and type.
You want to choose a model that has a low operating cost. For example, an EnergyGuide tag for an electric refrigerator may show the most thrifty energy user requires 700 kilowatt-hours of electricity each year to operate, while a less efficient model requires 1200 kilowatt-hours. Both are the same size and color, and have identical features. However, the more efficient model will cost less that $70 a year to operate, while the other will cost more than $120. You can buy lots of things for the $50 you'll save each year.
Refrigerators and freezers typically use the most energy of all kitchen and laundry appliances, especially if you have older units. Recent federal regulations have led to dramatic improvements in their efficiency which means much lower operating costs. The most efficient 29 cubic-foot refrigerators, complete with automatic defrost, cost less than $50 a year to operate. If you have an older refrigerator, it may be worthwhile to trade it in on a new, high efficiency model. Of course, don't plug in that old clunker down in the basement. The $120 or so it costs to operate yearly can really make the food it stores expensive. Plugging in a second refrigerator only when you need extra storage can save on electricity costs and does not harm the unit.
There are many new types of burners for electric cook-tops, including solid disk elements, radiant elements under glass, or high-tech halogen or induction elements. While several of these save energy, their main advantage is ease of cleaning, greater control and other amenities. The cost of electric cooking with standard coils is usually so low for a family that it is difficult to justify these more expensive options solely on the value of the energy saved. Other appliances, such as microwaves and convection ovens, can reduce the energy required for cooking by more than one-third. By releasing less heat into the home they can also help lower air conditioning needs.
More than 80% of the energy used by a dishwasher can be for heating water. Models that use less water not only save this precious resource but energy, too. A model with a booster heater will allow you to set the temperature on your water heater to 120 degrees yet still have water temperatures in the dishwasher of 140 degrees. The lower temperature setting for the water heater reduces the risk of scalding and saves you money. Using the air dry feature and operating the unit only when full saves even more.