Recent technological improvements have made it possible for the energy-efficiency of appliances to improve by leaps and bounds when compared to models that were sold relatively recently. For this reason, you have probably heard or read several recommendations that you could save big money on your monthly electric bills if you get rid of your old appliances and trade them in for newer models. Unfortunately, it’s hard to vet exactly where some of this information is coming from. After all, if manufacturers are pushing you toward buying new machines to replace the working ones you already have, can you actually be sure it’s in your best interest? When it comes down to it, how do you know if energy-efficient appliances are really worth the extra upfront costs you’ll have to invest into them?
How Old Is Too Old?
The actual age of your existing appliances is a very important factor when deciding whether you should replace them with newer models. Improvements in energy efficiency have been going on for years, and they have been on the fast track over the last decade. If you have an 6-year-old refrigerator, therefore, there’s a decent chance that it’s already decent at conserving electricity even if it doesn’t bear the Energy Star seal of approval. Getting rid of a relatively new appliance simply so you might be able to save a little extra money off your electric bill each month isn’t usually going to be a wise decision. On the other hand, if you are still using a 20-year-old washing machine, it could be costing you two or three times as much to run each month as you would have to pay with a newer model. Savings are all relative, so you shouldn’t always believe the hype when you hear that you should scrap all your “old” appliances and purchase the latest and greatest replacements.
What Appliances Should You Focus On?
Perhaps your home is full of older machinery and you would like to start replacing some of your electronics with newer models. In that case, how do you know which appliances are the most worthwhile to focus on first? In most households, the heating and cooling systems are responsible for about 50 percent of consumers’ total energy costs. If your furnace or air conditioning unit are more than 10 years old, then these are likely your best places to start when considering new appliances. The next-largest energy drain tends to be your hot water heater, but appliances like your washer, dryer, refrigerator, and dishwasher only account for about 13 percent of your total energy usage combined, according to Energy Star. For this reason, you shouldn’t expect replacement of any of these appliances to result in astronomical savings. Rather, you will likely see small savings that add up over time.
Are There Other Benefits?
While the financial benefits of switching to EnergyStar appliances are debatable, there’s no denying that newer models are much better for the environment. Getting rid of your older appliances can help reduce your individual greenhouse gas emissions and eventually help fight global warming. Newer appliances also tend to be nicer to use. You will likely notice that your laundry gets done faster, your dishes get cleaner, and your home stays heated or cooled better if you upgrade older systems.
What Are the Cons?
You are likely to find that the most noticeable con associated with buying more energy-efficient appliances is that they tend to have higher upfront costs. You might pay up to 50 percent more for an Energy Star certified refrigerator than you would for a model that consumes more power. While the extra costs will hopefully balance out in your energy savings each month, there is no way to guarantee that your results will match those of most consumers. Other than the cost, though, there is really no disadvantage to buying energy-efficient appliances the next time you need to shop for them. The benefits associated with them should make the decision a no-brainer for most consumers.