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Choosing Energy-Efficient Appliances

by Elisabeth Bailey

Given the number of appliances on the market that advertise themselves as "energy efficient", making a wise choice can be a little overwhelming. Energy Guide and Energy Star ratings are steps in the right direction, but they don't consider all aspects of energy use. Here are a few straightforward tips to help you decide which eco-friendly appliances are right for you:

1. Make an Investment

What you pay up front for a highly efficient appliance, you will usually recoup in energy costs within the first few years - what you save on energy… you save on energy costs.

2. Buy The Right Size For You

A small family needs small appliances--operating a too-big appliance consistently wastes energy. A large family, however, needs large appliances--and one large washer or freezer is almost always more efficient that two smaller ones.

3. Choose a Top Mounted Freezer

Side-by-side refrigerator/freezers use 10-30% more energy than similarly sized models with the freezer on top. Icemakers also add to energy consumption.

4. Investigate Water Use

Energy ratings won't tell you how much water an appliance uses, or how much water a washer spins out of a load. Check the manufacturer's information or contact your local water utility. In some states, electric and water utilities offer rebates for the purchase of efficient models.

5. Consider a Convection Oven

Convection ovens are more energy efficient than conventional ovens by about 20%. Convection cooking continuously circulates heated air, reducing required temperature and cooking times.

6. Pick Your Washer and Dryer Separately

Most washers and dryers come in matched sets, but the most efficient washer and the most efficient dryer rarely come together! Apart from appearance, there is no real advantage to having matched appliances. Pick the washer and dryer that are the best mix of energy-efficiency and fit to your needs.

7. Choose a Dryer with a Moisture Sensor

A moisture sensor will turn off your machine as soon as the laundry is dry--conserving both energy and your clothes.

8. Buy a Clothesline

It's green, it's affordable, and it gets you out in the fresh air and sunshine. An indoor drying rack adds welcome humidity to winter's dry air. Besides, sometimes your energy is the most efficient--and enjoyable–energy to use!

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