What to look for in energy-efficient appliances
Get a high-efficiency makeover
Energy-efficient appliances are easy to find when you look for the Energy Star and WaterSense labels. Products with these certifications are guaranteed to meet the government's rigorous standards for water and power conservation without sacrificing performance. Choose Energy Star and WaterSense appliances to be sure that you're minimizing your impact on the environment.
Slash your energy use when you buy an Energy Star refrigerator, which uses at least 20 percent less energy than standard models. Refrigerators are huge energy hogs because they run all the time. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, refrigerators consume on average 13 percent of the total energy in your home, so avoid buying a model that is larger than needed. Opt for a top-mounted freezer to further reduce your energy consumption by 10 to 25 percent.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average home consumes one-third of its energy in the kitchen and laundry room. Choosing high-efficiency appliances can make a huge difference in dramatically reducing our collective carbon footprint. Energy Star washers don't waste water by filling up the tub; they use pressurized streams of water to soak and clean clothes thoroughly, reducing water use by 50 percent. Clothes dryers do not have significant differences in energy efficiency and therefore do not carry the Energy Star label, but you can dramatically reduce drying time by choosing a model with a moisture-sensing option.
You can save 5,000 gallons of water each year by skipping the hand-washing and using an Energy Star dishwasher instead. These are 50 percent more energy-efficient than hand-washing. Choosing a dishwasher with soil-sensing capabilities can yield even deeper savings, as it automatically adjusts the cycle to use less energy and water depending on how dirty your dishes are.
Oven and cooktop
The energy usage difference between gas and electric ovens is minimal, so make your choice based on which cooking method suits you best. There are impressive savings to be had, however, when you choose a high-performing induction cooktop. You'll conserve energy while cooking and enjoy near-instantaneous temperature changes and easy cleanup. An Energy Star-qualified kitchen range hood delivers a 60 percent energy savings while controlling moisture and removing cooking odors from your kitchen.
Do your part to conserve our nation's water supply by installing a high-efficiency toilet. In the average household, the toilet is responsible for 30 percent of total water used. Toilets have come a long way in the past few years in terms of water efficiency. Toilets manufactured between 1980 and 1994 used between 3.5 and 7 gallons of water per flush. The most current high-efficiency toilet now consumes only 1.1 gallons of water per flush without sacrificing performance, thanks to improved flush velocity and pressurized water. Replace your older toilet with a WaterSense-qualified model to save hundreds of gallons each week.
Look for the yellow Energy Guide label to learn more specifics about your Energy Star appliance, including estimated yearly electricity use, operating cost and special features. You can easily compare different models and make the right decision for your family.