Do ‘Green’ Appliances Actually Save Money?

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Do You Actually Save Money By Using These Five Green Appliances?

You’ve decided it’s time to buy a major appliance. Nothing’s staying cold in the refrigerator. The washing machine is turning out things that aren’t so clean. And the dishwasher is leaving behind food remnants that look nothing short of prehistoric.

So you’re heading to the store to find a good buy on the appliance you need, but you’re also hoping to reduce your carbon footprint. Today, most household appliances come with an “Energy Star” rating, meaning that they’ve met energy efficiency standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). On average, Energy Star appliances may cost a bit more up front, but could save you money over time through reduced electricity and water usage. But always keep in mind that energy savings can vary depending on the electricity rates where you live.

1. Refrigerator

This may have a chilling effect on which refrigerator you end up buying: The actual cost savings of a more energy-efficient model is only significant if your current fridge is very old.  For example, if your average-sized fridge was purchased between 2001 and 2008, switching to an Energy Star certified model could save you only about $15 annually, based on the average national electricity rate. If you’re replacing a fridge from the 1980s, however, the savings jump to $145 per year.

2. Washing Machine

You can start your energy cost savings with a clean slate with a new washing machine. Opt for an Energy Star certified model and you’ll decrease water usage from 25 gallons to 13 gallons, per load. According to the EPA, new washers also reduce electricity usage by 25%, resulting in a savings of $180 a year. And as always, a cold rinse costs about 60% less than a warm one, according to Silicon Valley Power.

3. Dishwasher

According to the EPA, you’ll notice the biggest cost savings from energy-efficient dishwashers if you switch from a model made prior to 1994. Older models waste 10 gallons of water per cycle and also use more electricity, which could cost you up to $35 annually on your utility bill.

4. Televisions

Here’s the big picture: Televisions are growing in size and resolution but they’re getting more energy efficient at the same time. Energy Star models are about 25% more efficient than older televisions, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into significant savings. Even with an Energy Star compliant audio system and Blu-ray player, you’ll most likely see only about a $200 savings over the life of the equipment.

5. Hot Water Heaters

Something to whet your interest: Hot water heaters use more energy than anything else in your home, except for lighting. Switching to an Energy Star water heater could save you big bucks. According to the U.S. federal government, a family of four spends about $300 a year on electricity from an Energy Star heat pump water heater. What does that add up to? Less than half of the cost of an old standard electric heat resistance pump, and a projected savings of more than $3,000 over the life of the heater. Seven states offer incentives to buy an energy efficient heater, with New Hampshire topping the list with a $1,000 rebate.

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Sandra Murphy

Sandra Murphy

Holds a master's degree in professional writing and has more than 15 years of experience writing for national and international entities.

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