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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT APPLIANCES AND ELECTRONICS
If you’re like most Americans, about 20% of your residential energy bill goes to running appliances and powering electronics. We wouldn’t want to give up the comforts and pleasures we get from items like clothes washers and dryers; computers; dishwashers; home audio equipment; refrigerators and freezers; televisions, DVD players and VCRS, and water heaters. But you can make them more energy efficient, whether you want to replace them or simply modify the way you use them.
To learn more about energy efficiency measures for appliances and electronics, consult the FAQ below.
Appliances and Electronics FAQ
- How can I increase energy efficiency with my existing appliances and electronics?
- What should I keep in mind when selecting new appliances and electronics?
- How much do energy-efficient appliances and electronics cost?
- How much money and energy will I save?
- Are there any additional benefits?
- What rebates and incentives are available?
There are many small changes you can make to improve the energy efficiency of your current appliances and electronics.
In the Kitchen
- Adjust your freezer and refrigerator so they’re not overworking. Temperatures should meet these standards: 37° to 40°F for fresh food and 5°F for frozen food. For separate freezers, set the temperature to 0°F.
- Defrost manual-defrost refrigerators and freezers regularly; frost buildup decreases energy efficiency.
- Test refrigerator seals. Close the door over a dollar bill so it is half in and half out. If you can pull the bill out easily, the latch may need adjustment, the seal may need replacing or you may need a new unit.
- Keep the kitchen sink set for cold water, especially when using small amounts; placing the lever in the hot position uses energy to heat the water even though the water may never reach the faucet.
- Match the size of the pan to the heating element.
- When it makes sense, use smaller appliances instead of your oven. A toaster oven uses a third to half as much energy as a full-sized oven.
In the Laundry Room
- Use cold water whenever possible.
- Wash and dry full loads whenever possible.
- Clean the lint filter in the dryer after every load to improve air circulation.
- Air-dry clothes on clothes lines or drying racks whenever possible.
In the Home Office and Entertainment Center
- Plug AC adapters for laptops and other frequently unplugged electronics into power strips that can be turned off (or will turn off automatically); transformers draw power continuously, even when items are not plugged into the adapter.
- ENERGY STAR® labeled computers and monitors save energy only when the power management features are activated, so make sure power management is activated on your computer.
- Use sleep modes or manually turn off monitors. Screen savers don’t save energy.
- Avoid “phantom loads” (where items continue to draw power even when turned off) by unplugging appliances not in use or using a power strip to cut power to several items at once.
- Unplug battery chargers when the batteries are fully charged or the chargers are not in use.
For more information:
Learn when to turn off personal computers from the U.S. Department of Energy.
Download the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Savers Booklet.
Appliances and electronics have price tags in the store, but they don’t really reflect total costs. After you make your purchase, you’ll still have many years of energy payments to make in order to operate the item you choose. That’s why it’s important to consider energy efficiency as part of your overall decision.
ENERGY STAR® qualified appliances and electronics are widely available and usually exceed federal efficiency standards, typically using 10-50% less energy and water than conventional models. Because they cost less to operate, these products will save you money on your utility bill over the product’s lifetime.
Choosing ENERGY STAR® qualified items will ensure energy savings. You can also examine EnergyGuide labels to compare estimated annual energy costs across multiple options and find the best fit for you.
For more information:
Review the Federal Trade Commission’s advice on buying an energy-efficient home appliance.
Find information on qualified appliances and electronics at the ENERGY STAR® website.
Prices vary widely, but often there is little or no price difference between ENERGY STAR® qualified models and more conventional options.
Specific appliances will vary in their energy savings, but ENERGY STAR® qualified appliances use 10-50% less energy and water than standard models. Since appliances and electronics tend to account for about 20% of energy use, employing only ENERGY STAR® qualified appliances and electronics could cut your energy bill by 10%.
Here are a few examples of potential savings:
- Replacing a 10-year-old clothes washer with a new ENERGY STAR® clothes washer could cut your energy use by a third and save you more than $145 each year on your utility bills.
- ENERGY STAR® qualified dishwashers use at least 41% less energy than the federal minimum standard for energy consumption.
- ENERGY STAR® qualified refrigerators require about half as much energy as models manufactured before 1993.
In addition to energy and financial saving, energy efficient appliances and electronics have other benefits such as:
- Reduced water use: ENERGY STAR® qualified clothes and dishwashers cut water use by 50%—leading to even more energy savings.
- Increased efficiency: ENERGY STAR® qualified clothes washers don’t use an agitator to get your clothes clean—which allows for larger loads and less time spent doing laundry.
- Increased lifetime of clothes—agitator-free washing is also better for your clothing.
There are a number of financial incentives and programs available. See the Energy Action Planner for additional information on financial incentives in your area.