Save Money on Your Electricity Bill with These Top-Rated Energy Star Appliances

By Vernon Trollinger, May 17, 2013, Energy Efficiency, Save Money

Save Money on your Electricity Bill with these top-rated Energy Star Appliances at Bounce EnergyWith summer heat on the way, many consumers will do anything possible to save money on the electricity bill. One of the most effective means of energy conservation is to purchase Energy Star qualified appliances. And with summer’s hot temperatures in mind, let’s take a look at some of the top-rated Energy Star appliances on the market to see where you can use less energy throughout your home.

Refrigerators

Next to air conditioning, refrigerators are one of the appliances that makes modern life convenient. We’ll be the first to admit that your 15-year old veteran air conditioner might appear to be working fine right now, but in fact, it’s wearing out. The CFC coolant breaks down and compressor motors wear out. Even the vinyl sealing stripping on the doors ages and cracks, allowing chilled air to leak out bit by bit.

Energy Star refrigerators are definitely built to help you save money, and they do so through some important design features. For example, top-mounted freezers use 10-25% less energy than bottom-mounted or side-by-side models. Automatic ice-makers, especially those with a through the door dispenser, increase energy use by 14-20% —adding to your energy costs. Yet while Energy Star standards require qualifying models to be 15% more efficient than non-qualified models, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) recommends energy conservation models using at least 30% less electricity than that required by federal law.

Last but not least, don’t forget about size. The bigger the fridge, the harder it is to keep cool. According to the Residential ENERGYsmart Library, the most common home refrigerators are 18 to 20 cubic feet in size. Fortunately, the most energy efficient models are are typically 16–20 cubic feet.

Which ones are the best models? Sorting the current Energy Star Qualified listings by comparing Configuration, % Better than Federal Standards, and Total Volume Returned, it seems that GE is leading the way in helping consumers save money and use less electricity. Its 16.5 cu. ft GTH17BBC-series model is rated as 35% above federal energy efficiency standards with an average consumption of 300 kWh/year. The best one the next size up is also a GE; the 18.1 cu ft GTH18ABC series is also rated 35% over the Federal Standard and uses 311 kWh/year.

Energy Star rebates for new refrigerators are also available through state and local utilities. Also remember there are local programs that will safely recycle your old fridge.

Washing Machines

Doing your laundry can be a dirty business when it comes to energy conservation. It’s estimated that 25 million washers in use are over 10 years old and waste billions of dollars in energy cost every year. Washing machines use energy in two ways: one is direct electrical energy to power the motor and controls, while the other is the energy it takes to heat water. In general, horizontal axis machines tend to be more energy efficient and use less water than older top-loading washers. Energy Star washing machines use 20% less energy (270 kWh/year) and 35% less water (about 15 gallons/load) and the most efficient ones are horizontal axis.

You can compare different Energy Star washing machines yourself. Sorting the database with the Modified Energy Factor in descending order and Annual Energy Use set in ascending order shows that the most efficient was the LG-WM8000H front loading washer with 5.16 cu. ft. that averages 135 kWh/year and 6,068.16 gallons/year.

Save Money on your Electricity Bill with these top-rated Energy Star Appliances at Bounce EnergyDishwashers

Coming clean about dishwashers means that that you have to expose their problems with energy conservation. The situation is similar to that of your washing machines, but you have to include the added problem of heated drying. Energy Star qualifying dishwashers have advanced technology such as soil sensors, water filters, and efficient spray jets that help remove food particles faster and easier. They also use less electricity and water, and when you use fewer resources when cleaning, you’re going to save money easily.

The current Energy Star dishwasher database makes choosing the leader tricky. It lists the Asko D5894A (series) as #1, BUT there are trade-offs with its nearest competitor, the Bosch SHE8ER55UC . The Asko model uses 171 kWh/year, is 51% better than Federal Standards for energy efficiency, but uses 4 gallons of water. The Bosch model uses 180 kWh/year, is 49% better than the Federal energy conservation standard, and only uses 2.22 gallons of water (65% better than the Federal standard). We’ll call this one a tie.

Central Air Conditioning

Of all your appliances, the one that devours your summertime energy dollars is central air conditioning. It’s also one of the most expensive home appliances to replace, so it’s important to know which ones will give the best performance. The average lifespan of a central air system is 14 years, though frequent breakdowns often indicate the system may be rapidly deteriorating and might need to be replaced soon. If your central air conditioning unit is more than 12 years old, replacing it with an Energy Star qualified system could cut your cooling costs by 30%.

Central air conditioners (and heat pumps) are rated according to their Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER). The SEER represents the cooling output divided by the power input for a hypothetical average U.S. climate. The higher the SEER, the more efficient the air conditioner. Sizing is the important concern, and this capacity is measured in tons. This doesn’t mean the heat exchanger weighs 2,000 pounds, but rather describes the amount of heat in BTU’s it can remove from the air. A 1 ton system can remove 12,000 BTUs. To calculate the cooling load in tons, you need to plug in the variable for building size, windows, and sun exposure, but this should be done by a qualified HVAC contractor because the outside unit must be matched to the inside blower unit.

Energy Star central air conditioning systems are 15% more efficient than conventional models and have SEER rating of 14.5 in zones 1-3 and 13 in zones 4-8.

Currently, the most efficient central air conditioning unit for 2013 is the Broan FS4BI Series with iQ Drive Control (series). It rates 24.5 SEER and comes in 2,3, and 4 ton capacities plus offers an additional 18% of cooling capacity is available for rapid cooling. The 2-ton version uses 823 kWh/year, has an annual cost of $90, and is 47% better than the national average. Retail cost, excluding labor, is about $4,000.

Sure, by suggesting that consumers should spend money on new appliances might seem counter-intuitive if you’re looking to save money, but by purchasing top-rated Energy Star appliances, you’re going to save more money in the long run. Since you’ll be using less energy to power your home, your electricity bill will be smaller on a monthly basis, and those savings will add up rather quickly.

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