Energy Guide Label
Look for EnergyGuide labels when you’re shopping for appliances. They will help you make the most energy-efficient purchase — and save you money over the life of your appliance.
On the left under the headline EnergyGuide, the label describes the type of appliance it is. It offers a brief description and the capacity (the size) of the appliance. On the right, it lists the manufacturer and the model numbers that fit this description. In the box, the estimated amount of energy the appliance will use in a year is spelled out. Below that is a line scale showing the range of energy use in models of comparable size and type. A caret points out where this particular appliance falls along the range of energy costs.
A paragraph indicates the range of model sizes being compared. Finally, the label tells you how much you can expect to spend each year in electricity costs, given the estimated kilowatt-hours the appliance uses and the suggested cost of electricity.
ENERGY STAR® labels appear on appliances that are the most energy-efficient products in their class. Manufacturers and retailers can voluntarily place ENERGY STAR® labels on those appliances that meet or exceed standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy.
For consumers, looking for appliances with the ENERGY STAR® label can make purchasing decisions easier. These products not only save energy, but they also help prevent air pollution and save money, frequently with better performance.
Find out more about ENERGY STAR® qualified products, and locate a store near you that carries products with the ENERGY STAR® label at the ENERGY STAR website.
Electric vs. Gas
The connections you have in your laundry room will probably dictate which style you use. If you have both gas and 240-volt connections, consider that gas dryers cost more to begin with — approximately $50 more than the comparable electric model. But in most areas, gas dryers will cost less to run over their lifetime.
Energy Saving Tips
- Locate your dryer in a heated space
- Make sure your dryer is vented properly
- Check the outside dryer exhaust vent periodically
- Clean the lint filter in the dryer after every load
- Dry only full loads
And here’s the ultimate money-saving tip for drying clothes:
Use a clothesline! Let the heat of the sun dry your clothes, and don’t use the clothes dryer at all.
Explore the ENERGY STAR® dishwashers for those with the best efficiency features. These feature improved technology, energy-efficient motors, and other advanced technology such as sensors that determine the length of the washing cycle. They also save energy by using less hot water to clean. Choose a dishwasher that gives you heat-drying and air-drying options.
- Avoid using the “rinse hold” setting
- Try to wash only full loads
- Use the air-dry setting
- Install your dishwasher away from your refrigerator
If you’re planning to purchase a new freezer, remember that the average life expectancy of a freezer is 21 years! You’ll want to make sure to buy the most efficient freezer available, and use it wisely. Get the most efficient unit you can afford. Remember that chest freezers are more efficient than uprights, because they retain the cold better (cold air sinks), and they also have more usable space.
Freezers work best when they are two-thirds full. They need air circulation to operate efficiently, so don’t overload, but running them near-empty is wasteful. Therefore, fill up water jugs to help occupy any unused space.
If you choose to cook using a microwave, you’re choosing to save money. Fast and efficient microwave ovens use around 50 to 65% less energy than conventional ovens. They also have the added benefit of not heating up your kitchen, so they save money on air conditioning during the hot times of the year.
Basic microwave ovens are almost equally efficient. New models of microwave ovens, however, include features that improve energy efficiency and cooking performance. These include temperature probes, sensing controls that tell by moisture content when food is properly cooked, and variable power settings.
Ranges & Ovens
If you are considering buying a new range and oven, you can expect to live with your purchase for the next 20 years. The choice you make in the store can save you a little or a lot of money over the next two decades.
First, look beyond the initial price tag. All appliances have two costs — the purchase price, and the operating cost, or the money that you pay out month after month, year after year, in the form of your utility bills.
Today, about 58% of American households cook with electricity, but gas cooking is making a steady comeback, for good reason. A gas stove costs less than half as much to operate as an electric one, provided it is equipped with an electronic ignition instead of a pilot light. The electronic pilotless ignitions reduce gas usage by about 30% over a constantly burning pilot light.
Consider the new convection ovens. These are new designs that continually circulate heated air around the food being cooked. Convection ovens distribute heat more evenly than ordinary ovens, so cooking time and cooking temperatures can be reduced, cutting energy use by about a third, on average.
Oven Energy-Saving Tips
- Preheat it only when necessary
- Bake several items at the same time
- Use glass or ceramic pans in your oven
- Occasionally check the seal on your oven door for cracks or tears
Electric Range Energy-Saving Tips
- Turn off your electric burners several minutes before the allotted cooking time is up
- Make sure your stovetop electric coils work properly
- Keep stovetop burners and reflectors clean
- Use only flat-bottomed pans that make full contact with the element
Gas Range Energy-Saving Tips
- Use a moderate flame setting to conserve gas
- Your range hood should ventilate to the outside of the house
Large appliances have been improved through energy standards. Miscellaneous appliances, however, are not required to meet such standards.
Items such as computers, ceiling fans, halogen torchiere lamps, vacuum cleaners, electric skillets, dehumidifiers, waterbed heaters, electric toothbrushes, hot tubs, videotape recorders, microwave ovens, and stereos now account for about one-fifth of the energy used in your home, and the percentage is growing quickly.
ENERGY STAR® now rates home electronic equipment. It pays to be a wise shopper and consider energy savings! For the leaking appliances you already have, consider turning them off manually — unplug them when they are not in use, or plug them into a power strip that can be turned off — really turned off — with a separate switch.
The average life expectancy of a water heater is 13 years. You need to consider the initial purchase price — but also think about how much it costs to operate. If you choose a water heater that saves you money, the savings will continue for years.
Gas vs. Electric
Which is better — gas or electric? In almost all applications, natural gas is the most economical way to go. That is, if natural gas prices are stable. It usually costs three times as much to heat the same amount of water with electricity as it does with gas. If you have an electric water heater and a gas furnace or stove, you may save money in the long run if you extend the gas line to your water heater. If you live in a rural area that has propane service instead of natural gas, propane is usually less expensive than electricity.
Once you’ve figured out your “First Hour Rating” — how much hot water your family typically needs and the size of the water heater you should buy — look for the “First Hour Rating” figure on the EnergyGuide label. Choose a model with a “First Hour Rating” close to the capacity you need.
There is another label on new water heaters listing that unit’s “Energy Factor.” It’s a number with a decimal point, usually listed on a separate tag beside the EnergyGuide. The higher the “Energy Factor” number, the more efficient the water heater.
Tankless Water Heaters
Also called demand water heaters, these provide hot water right where you need it, when you need it, without a storage tank.
Tankless water heaters are compact in size and virtually eliminate standby losses — energy wasted when hot water cools down in long pipes or while it’s sitting in the storage tank. By providing warm water immediately where it’s used, tankless water heaters waste less water.
However, there are disadvantages. Tankless water heaters usually cannot supply enough hot water for simultaneous uses such as showers and laundry. Unless your demand system has a feature called modulating temperature control, it may not heat water to a constant temperature at different flow rates. That means that water temperatures can fluctuate uncomfortably — particularly if the water pressure varies wildly in your own water system.