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54. Choose Energy-efficient Appliances


Over the life span of most appliances, the cost to operate them is far more than the initial purchase price. Therefore, purchasing an energy-efficient appliance is almost always the wisest choice, even if it costs more to purchase than an inefficient one. You can determine the most energy-efficient model by looking at “EnergyGuide” labels.

Climate control appliances, such as air conditioners, furnaces, and heat pumps, are labeled with an energy efficiency rating. The higher the number, the more efficient the appliance. The energy efficiency label also shows how this model compares with others.

energy use label

Energy use labels appear on refrigerators, freezers, water heaters, dishwashers, and clothes washers. The amount of energy used per year is listed, along with how this compares with other models. The label shows how much it costs to operate the appliance for a year, based on the national average cost for electricity and gas.
electricity and gas rates

For an even more accurate estimate of energy use, check your utility bill to find out either the kilowatt hour rate (for electricity) or the therm rate (for gas). Then multiply those rates by the kilowatts or therm rates per year that the appliance will use.
energy use calculation

Here’s an example: Assume your local utility charges 12 cents per kilowatt hour, and the EnergyGuide for the refrigerator you’re considering says it uses 776 kilowatt hours per year. Multiply the two numbers and you find that the appliance will cost $93 to operate annually.
typical appliance lifespans

You can also compute how expensive it will be to operate an appliance over its entire life, allowing you to judge how much one model will save over another. According to industry officials, here’s an estimate of the average life span of major appliances.
compute lifetime costs...

To compute lifetime costs, multiply the per-year operating cost times the average life span of the appliance, and add that number to the original price. For example, let’s compare two refrigerator models—one with a price tag of $800 and an annual energy cost of $120 and another, more energy-efficient model with a purchase cost of $1,000 and an annual energy cost of $93.
estimated operation costs...

If you included estimated operation costs over the appliance’s entire life, refrigerator #1 would cost $3,200 over 20 years, while refrigerator #2 would cost $2,860. Thus, the energy-efficient model with the higher purchase price will cost about $340 less in the long run.

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