Do Energy Star appliances really save money?
Written by Andrew Sendy
Updated March 12, 2020
5 minutes read
Categories: Solar efficiency
Do Energy Star appliances really save money?
When shopping for appliances, you are bound to notice products with the Energy Star logo proudly displayed. This blue square logo with white lettering can be found on everything from refrigerators to furnaces. Buying Energy Star appliances is a good first step towards improved home efficiency.
What does Energy Star mean on appliances?
The Energy Star symbol was created in 1992 as a partnership of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with various industrial, commercial, utility, and state organizations. Together, these partners have worked to define energy-efficiency standards for various appliances and building materials. Products that meet these standards are tagged with the Energy Star logo.
Appliances that carry the Energy Star label must not only meet efficiency standards, they must meet customer needs in regard to performance and features as well. While Energy Star appliances may sometimes cost a little more than those without the logo, buyers will soon recoup the increased cost in the form of energy savings.
Are Energy Star appliances the most efficient appliances?
Absolutely. Energy Star appliances are definitely more efficient than those that do not carry the Energy Star label.
However, don’t make the mistake of thinking that all Energy Star certified brands and models are the same. Take gas furnaces, for instance. They must be 15 percent more efficient than the base model to earn the certification. Some certified models will just meet the required standard, i.e. they will be 15 percent more efficient. But other models will exceed the requirement and be 20 or 25 percent more efficient, and thus offer even bigger savings.
When shopping for new appliances, start by narrowing down your search to Energy Star models only. Then, compare various Energy Star models to find the most efficient choice within your budget.
How do Energy Star appliances work?
Generally, Energy Star appliances are made with the latest technology to ensure they waste as little electricity or fuel as possible while in operation. The exact technology used varies by appliance.
Energy Star refrigerators, for example, are fitted with insulation to keep the cold inside. Their temperature controls are also more precise, so the whole fridge cools evenly.
Energy Star clothes dryers have improved moisture sensors and air circulation technology to shorten drying time. Dishwashers have sensors to detect how dirty dishes are, and adjust the cycle accordingly to minimize energy and water use.
Appliance companies, in collaboration with the EPA, are always working to develop new technology for even greater efficiency. As technology improves, Energy Star standards become more stringent.
What rebates are available for Energy Star appliances?
Various utility companies and appliance manufacturers offer rebates to make buying Energy Star appliances even more affordable. Mass Save, for example, offers up to a $200 rebate for customers who buy a new, energy-efficient refrigerator. Use the Energy Star Rebate Finder to discover other rebates available in your area.
When is the right time to invest in new appliances?
Waiting to replace an appliance until it fails is not smart. Instead, keep these average appliance lifespans in mind, and replace your aging appliances when they begin reaching the end of their average lifespan.
- Dishwashers: 9 years
- Microwave Ovens: 9 years
- Water Heaters: 10 years
- Dryers: 13 years
- Refrigerators: 13 years
- Furnaces: 15 years
- Gas Range: 15 years
- Heat Pumps: 16 years
Appliances become less efficient as they age; today's models are also much more efficient than those made even 10 years ago.
Save even more by carefully timing your appliance purchases. The best time to buy most larger appliances is over Labor Day or Memorial Day weekend. Air conditioners tend to be cheapest in August, and dishwashers in December.
How much energy does an Energy Star appliance use versus non-Energy Star models?
The energy savings are more significant than you might assume. Energy Star clothes washers, for example, use 25% less energy than standard models. Energy Star dryers use 20% less energy, and Energy Star dehumidifiers use 15% less energy.
Energy Star refrigerators are only about 9% more efficient than standard models, but that is because all refrigerators sold in the U.S. must meet a basic efficiency standard, which is already quite stringent.
With an Energy Star room air conditioner, you can expect to use about 13% less energy. Energy Star certified air purifiers are 40% more efficient than standard models.
Keep in mind that these numbers compare Energy Star appliances with currently available standard models. If you are replacing an aged, worn appliance with a new Energy Star model, you'll reduce your energy consumption even further.
How much can I expect to save on my energy bill by using Energy Star appliances?
Since 1992, Energy Star has saved homeowners and business owners more than $450 billion on electricity. Here's a look at the lifetime utility cost savings you can enjoy by replacing individual appliances with Energy Star models.
- Clothes Washer: $415
- Refrigerator: $260
- Air Purifier: $215
- Clothes Dryer: $160
- Dehumidifier: $100
- Room Air Conditioner: $99
Energy Star also offers calculator tools you can use to more specifically estimate your savings based on your current appliance model and the new Energy Star model you choose.
To save even more on energy, consider changing how you obtain your energy, too. Solar panels allow you to generate your own energy from an unlimited, eco-friendly resource: sunlight.
Will my investment in Energy Star appliances pay off in the long run?
Yes. While Energy Star appliances may cost more upfront, you will recoup the additional cost in the form of energy savings over the lifespan of the product. Rebates make the products even more affordable.
Plus, choosing energy saving appliances is as good for the planet as it is for your wallet. In 2016 alone, Energy Star reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 320 metric tons. If your goal is to reduce your carbon footprint, pairing Energy Star appliances with solar panels is a smart choice.