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Pick the Right Appliances
Judging Appliance Efficiency
Part of the problem in comparing models is that they can look alike outside but have major differences inside. Motors, compressors, insulation, and electronic sensors are the real brawn and brains of any appliance, so it’s important to find a source of information that will sift through it all.
Efficiency plays a bigger role in consumer decisions as the cost of utilities rises. Appliances, after all, account for about 20 percent of a household’s energy consumption, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Larry Costello, of Sears Holdings, says consumers now list efficiency in water used and energy consumed as second only to performance when deciding to buy an appliance. Refrigerators, clothes washers, and clothes dryers are the top consumers of energy and resources.
The EnergyGuide and the Energy Star are appliance labels that offer energy-related appliance information to consumers. The EnergyGuide lists features, capacity, and model. It estimates annual energy consumption or efficiency, compares it with similar models, and suggests an estimated yearly operating cost. The cost estimate, however, will vary depending on local utility rates and how the appliance is used — things like partial dishwasher loads will be inefficient with any model. Energy Star is a certification program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. Energy Star recognition signifies that the appliance has been tested and meets standards for energy efficiency, making it significantly more energy-efficient than comparable models.
In communities with tighter water restrictions, wise use of resources is also a factor. For example, Energy Star dishwashers consider the “water factor.” That is a measurement of the gallons of water used per cycle per cubic foot. The lower the water factor, the less water used. Appliance manufacturers are responding with washers and dishwashers that are cutting water use in half.
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