20 years ago, the idea of an “eco-friendly” approach to living wasn’t a concept most people knew much about. These days, as more and more people consider the environment and its future, the idea of minimizing one’s carbon footprint is gaining in popularity. Indeed, many people are now living a “green” lifestyle. And there are a number of products on the market that allow for an easy transition to this particular lifestyle – including appliances.
But the process of selecting just the right appliances can be daunting. After all, how does a person know if that particular dishwasher or oven range does indeed draw less energy than other competing products. To this end, it’s important for the consumer to know what he or she is getting when they purchase an “eco-friendly” appliance. It’s also important to understand the ratings system used by the U.S. Department of Energy.
Energy Star Ratings
The Department of Energy now mandates all home-appliance manufacturers to test their products for efficiency. The results of these tests are denoted via the Energy Star ratings. An Energy Star-certified appliance is one that is in the top 25% of energy savers. Oftentimes Energy Star-certified appliances are more expensive, but the Department of Energy insures the extra money spent will be recouped through lower utility costs.
Out of all the appliances in the kitchen, it’s the fridge that draws the most power. Since every home needs a refrigerator, the appliance can’t be abandoned completely. However, environmentally conscious homeowners can seek out a new fridge with the aforementioned Energy Star rating. Also, family homes can cut costs by limiting themselves to one fridge per household. That means no mini-fridge in the kids’ rooms or wine refrigerator on the outside patio.
To put things in perspective, those that swap out a standard dishwasher for an Energy Star-rated model can expect it draw 41% less energy than the other. Combine this with the fact an Energy Star-rated dishwasher uses less water and the result is a truly eco-friendly appliance.
Washing machines and dryers
Another staple of the modern home is the washing machine and dryer – and these appliances suck up their fare share of power. According to the Department of Energy, Energy Star-rated washing machines use up 40% less energy and water than the alternative. And the use of less water in the washing process means clothes require less time in the dryer. That said, there is no Energy Star rating for clothes dryers. One way the average person or family can save energy is to restrict most clothes to line drying.
As most people are aware, cooktops come in two forms: gas and electric. An easy rule of thumb to remember is that gas stoves draw less energy than electric. Of course the drawback to this is that gas cooktops produce carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. The best way to prevent these noxious gases from getting into the air is to ensure the gas range is outfitted with a well-ventilated hood. Also, ovens – whether gas or electric – should only be used for big meals, as they draw quite a bit of power. Instead, microwaves and toaster ovens should be used for smaller cooking jobs.
By following these easy tips, the average person should be able to outfit their home with eco-friendly appliances and greatly reduce their energy bills in the process. And by making slight lifestyle adjustments, such as the above-mentioned line-drying of clothes, even more cash can be saved.
Rhonda Dinn is a digital content developer for Touch Free Concepts. She is focused on improving the health of people both at home and in the workplace.