Energy-Efficient Appliances Household energy bills have been surging, making it more expensive than ever to heat, cool and electrify your home. If you’re still using older, less energy-efficient appliances or reside in a less energy-efficient home, now may be an ideal time to upgrade. Doing so will not only significantly reduce your utility bills, it will also likely increase your property value and enhance your quality of life.
When considering more energy-efficient appliances, start with your home’s greatest energy-guzzlers. Heating and cooling appliances are by far the biggest energy-users in a home, typically comprising 40-50% of monthly energy use. Water heaters (gas or electric) consume about 14% of a home’s energy, closely followed by the washer/dryer at 13% and lighting at 12%. Your numbers may vary depending on the age and condition of your appliances and your energy consumption habits.
Whether considering a new furnace or heater, air conditioning unit, water heater or other major appliance, keep the following in mind:
  • Choose the right-sized appliance – A furnace or water heater too small for your home will need to run more often, potentially consuming more energy and shortening its lifespan. Appliances too large for a home are a waste of money, as they’ll be more expensive. Work with a trustworthy appliance dealer to ensure you get an appliance right for your home and needs.
  • Look for the labels – The U.S. government requires major appliances to be affixed with labels indicating their energy efficiency. The ENERGY STAR label (blue with white lettering) helps you identify the most efficient products. The EnergyGuide label (yellow with black lettering) helps you compare the estimated energy use and yearly operating cost of a particular appliance. To find rebates and special offers in your area on ENERGY STAR-certified products, check here.
  • Check what reviewers say – Not all appliances are created equal. A cheaper appliance won’t be of much help to you if it prematurely conks out, requiring repair or replacement. Before deciding on a particular appliance, see what others say about that particular brand or model.
  • See if a cheaper power source is available – Generally, natural gas is a less-expensive energy option than electricity. If you’re not using a natural gas appliance already, such as a water heater, clothes dryer or stove, check if such service is available in your home, and whether it makes financial sense for you to pursue.
  • Check for energy company rebates – Many energy companies offer their customers rebates on the purchase of a new, more energy-efficient appliance. Some even offer to cover the costs of your old appliance’s removal! Find out what financial incentives may be available in your area by checking with your local energy company.
Energy-efficiency upgrades in your home can take many forms. If your local energy company offers a low-cost or no-cost “home energy audit,” start with that. Your audit results will let you know if and how your home is less energy-efficient, such as if you have leaky doors or windows, or insufficient insulation in your attic.
Consider the following home energy improvements:
  • Efficient windows and doors – Newer windows and doors are made of materials that reduce air leaks and reduce heat exchange, so you won’t need as much energy to heat or cool a space.
  • Better insulation – With more insulation in your attic and walls, you’ll keep warm air from escaping in the winter, and hot air out in the summer.
  • A “smart” thermostat – A “smart” thermostat is a wi-fi enabled device that controls home heating and cooling settings by learning your temperature preferences and automatically adjusting them to energy-saving temperatures.
  • LED light bulbs – An LED light bulb with the ENERGY STAR label uses up to 90% less energy than an incandescent light bulb, with the same illumination.
If you’re interested in upgrading to more energy efficient appliances for your home, take a look at our home equity loan options or our Visa® Rewards Plus credit card to see how we can help.