Energy Star Appliances Conserve Money & Resources

You may have heard the term ‘Energy Star’ or seen the labels on various appliances, but what is the Energy Star program?

The Energy Star program is a voluntary labeling program sponsored by the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Energy Star label helps businesses and consumers easily identify highly efficient products, homes, and buildings that save energy and money, while protecting the environment.

Appliances labeled with the Energy Star logo save you money by using less electricity and water than other appliances. Although energy efficient models sometimes cost more to purchase initially, any extra up-front cost can often be made up with savings on your utility bill.

Home improvement products found with the Energy Star logo include appliances, heating & cooling equipment, home electronics and lighting. In terms of appliances, the Energy Star program includes clothes washers and dryers, refrigerators, dishwashers, and window unit air conditioners.

Energy StarAn appliance receives the Energy Star rating if it is significantly more energy efficient than the minimum government standards. The amount by which an appliance must exceed the minimum standards is different for each product, and depends on available technology. Energy Star rated products are always among the most efficient available on the market.

The refrigerator is the single biggest energy user in most households, aside from the heating and cooling system.

A typical refrigerator made around 1990 uses over 900 kilowatt hours per year—that’s the same amount of energy you would use by leaving a 1,250 watt hair dryer on for a month. And the older your refrigerator is, the more power it burns. Energy Star refrigerators incorporate a number of advanced features to save energy while keeping your food fresh.

To make a better refrigerator, manufacturers use:

  • Better insulation
  • More efficient compressors
  • Improved heat transfer surfaces
  • More precise temperature and defrost mechanisms

With improved insulation, the compressor needs to run less often. Since the compressor runs less often and therefore produces less heat while it is running, the kitchen remains cooler. This in turn reduces the need to air condition as much to maintain the same comfort level. Energy Star refrigerators must exceed minimum federal standards for energy consumption by at least 20%.

Energy Star Refrigerator

Energy Star dishwashers save by using both improved technology for the primary wash cycle, and by using less hot water to clean.

Construction includes energy efficient motors, and other advanced technology such as sensors that determine the length of the washing cycle and the temperature of the water necessary to clean the dishes.

A significant savings can be realized by minimizing the amount of hot water needed. Dishwashers use built-in electric heaters to heat water to a temperature hot enough to clean the dishes effectively. Energy Star dishwashers minimize the amount of water needed, saving the energy required to heat it in addition to other efficiencies.

Water heating represents between thirteen and seventeen percent of residential energy consumption, making it the third largest energy end use in homes, behind heating and cooling and kitchen appliances.

Water Heaters are the only major appliance that the Energy Star program does not address. The U.S. Department of Energy is in the process of establishing an Energy Star residential water heater program.

Also not directly addressed by the Energy Star program is cooking appliances such as ranges, cooktops or ovens. This is because these use less energy than refrigerators and freezers, which run 24-7, or dishwashers, which have to heat a lot of water.

Here’s another fact to think over; if every American home replaced just one light bulb with an Energy Star bulb, enough energy would be saved to light more than 3 million homes for a year, would save more than $600 million in annual energy costs, and prevent greenhouse gas build up equivalent to the emissions of more than 800,000 cars. These light bulbs are called Compact Florescent bulbs, and can last for years and use up to 70% less energy than traditional light bulbs.

So, remember to look for the Energy Star label when shopping for major home appliance products to be sure you get the most efficient models available. You’ll save money and help conserve our natural resources!

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