Simply changing settings on your washer and dryer can save energy and money. | Photo courtesy of Bethany Sparn, NREL 25545
This week, we showed you how an energy audit can help you identify energy-saving opportunities in your house, from sealing air leaks to adding insulation, that could cut your energy bill by 5%-30%. That’s a lot of extra cash in your pocket every month. But if you’re still searching for ways to save even more money, consider taking a hard look at the appliances in your house and how you use them—home appliances like dishwashers, refrigerators, and laundry machines account for about 13% of a household’s energy costs!
Whether you’re moving, remodeling, or just replacing appliances in your house, there are a few things you should keep in mind when shopping if you want to save some money. Think of each appliance as having two price tags. One price tag displays the upfront cost of purchasing the appliance; the other is the cost of operating the appliance over its expected lifetime—in other words, you’ll be paying this second price every year over the life of the appliance as part of your monthly energy bill. The yellow EnergyGuide label can help you estimate the cost of operating an appliance. Buying an ENERGY STAR®-qualified product can help cut this second price and save you money over the long term. In fact, ENERGY STAR-qualified clothes washers and refrigerators are about 20% more energy efficient than standard models, and ENERGY STAR-qualified dishwashers only use about 5.8 gallons of water per cycle or less—older dishwashers purchased before 1994 use more than 10 gallons of water per cycle.
How you operate your appliances can also have a major impact on your savings each month. Doing things like only running your dishwasher with a full load, scraping (not rinsing) food off your dishes before loading, and letting your dishes air dry can help cut the energy use of your dishwasher. When doing laundry, consider using cold water when possible and drying towels and heavier cottons in a separate load from lighter-weight clothes. You can also make sure the seals on your refrigerator doors are airtight by closing the door over a piece of paper or a dollar bill so it is half in and half out of the refrigerator—if you can pull the paper or bill out easily, the latch may need adjustment or the seal may need replacing.
By taking some simple steps to use your appliances more efficiently, and factoring in lifetime energy costs when purchasing new appliances, you can add to the savings identified in an energy audit and save even more money on your energy bill.