Shopping for Energy Efficient Appliances

When shopping for major appliances, don't forget to consider energy costs. While energy-efficient appliances may cost more initially, over their lifetime the energy savings will more than make up for the difference. Look for yellow EnergyGuide label, which estimates how much energy the appliance uses, compares energy use of similar products and lists approximate annual operating costs. The EnergyGuide label will also tell you if the product is ENERGY STAR qualified. ENERGY STAR qualified appliances incorporate advanced technologies that use 10-50% less energy and water than standard models.

Here are some things to consider when shopping for energy-efficient appliances.

Clothes Washers and Dryers

  • Buy the right size washer for your needs.

    While a larger washer will hold more clothes, it will also use more energy. A model that's too small will require more loads.

  • Choose a model with a high Modified Energy Factor (MEF) and a low Water Factor (WF).

    Modified Energy Factor (MEF) is a measure of energy efficiency that takes into account the energy used by the washer, the energy used to heat the water, and the energy used to run the dryer. The higher the MEF, the more energy efficient the clothes washer. Water Factor (WF) measures water efficiency in gallons of water consumed per cubic foot of capacity. The lower the WF, the more water efficient the clothes washer.

  • Consider a horizontal-axis clothes washer.

    Front-loading horizontal-axis washers are much more efficient than conventional vertical-axis (top-loading) washers with agitators, because they don't have to fill the tub completely with water.

  • Look for a washer with a higher spin speed.

    Faster spin speeds extract more water from the clothes, reducing the energy needed for drying them.

  • Choose a dryer with a moisture sensor.

    You can reduce clothes drying energy use by choosing a model with a moisture sensor. This feature automatically shuts off the machine when clothes are dry, which saves energy and reduces wear and tear on your clothes caused by over-drying.


  • Choose the right size dishwasher for your home.

    For small families, a compact model may be the best option. Running a standard size dishwasher half-full can cost more than a full load in a compact model. On the other hand, if you have to operate a compact model more frequently, over time you may use more energy than with a standard model.

  • Look for a model with several wash cycle options.

    For dishes that are only slightly dirty, you can use a light or energy-saving wash cycle, which uses less water and runs for a shorter period of time.

  • Look for an energy-saving "No-Heat" dry feature.

    Dishwashers use an electric heating element to dry the dishes at the end of the final rinse cycle. On average, this accounts for about 7% of a dishwasher's energy use. Most new dishwashers offer an energy-saving no-heat drying feature that bypasses the heating element and allows the dishes to air dry.

Refrigerators and Freezers

  • Consider a refrigerator with a top-mounted freezer.

    Refrigerators with top-mounted freezers typically use 10-25% less energy than bottom-mount or side-by-side models.

  • Match the size of the refrigerator to your needs.

    Generally, the larger the refrigerator, the greater the energy consumption. The most efficient models are generally in the 16-20 cubic foot range. For larger models, the energy consumption can go up significantly.

  • Consider doing without the ice-maker and dispenser.

    Automatic ice-makers and through-the-door dispensers can increase energy use by 14-20% (and also increase the initial cost).

  • For a stand-alone freezer, consider a chest model.

    While a chest freezer typically requires more floor space, it's usually more energy efficient, since the door opens from the top and allows less cold air to escape.

  • Consider a manual defrost model.

    Manual defrost freezers use half the energy of automatic defrost models, but must be defrosted periodically to achieve the energy savings.


  • Consider a convection oven.

    Convection ovens are more energy efficient than conventional ovens because they circulate the heated air around the food being cooked, reducing the required temperature and cooking time. On average, a convection oven can cut energy use by about 20%.

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