Energy efficient standards have drastically changed through out the years, and the change has been even more accelerated in the last few years. It's very easy to overlook upgrading or replacing your appliances when they appear to be running fine and not causing you any issues.
Well, although they might give the appearance that everything is running great, you might be paying too much for your power bill because of them. When speaking of the appliances, this is referring to the 3 of the largest household appliances that most anyone is able to replace. This would be the washer, dryer, and refrigerator. The air conditioner is your largest and most consuming appliance, but not everyone has the ability to replace it, if say they are in an apartment. The same goes for a water heater. Both of these are very important to make sure they are up to standard, if you have the ability to replace / maintain them.
Before investing in new appliances, it's best to review what you have first. We'll call this the discovery stage. During the discovery stage, there are a few things to verify.
First make sure the manufacture date is after 1975. Yes, it may sound like a long time ago, but there's still many people out there with operating appliances from the 70's. It was not until 1975, that Congress passed the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, which set minimum standards for the energy efficient of many appliances. If it's not, most likely, you're consuming too much energy with your appliances. If it is from 1992 or later, then your appliance should have an Energy Star sticker. This is the big yellow sticker with many numbers on it. You can use this as a guide to determine the energy efficiency of your current appliances and compare it with newer appliances. If you do not have an Energy Guide sticker, it becomes a little more difficult to determine the true energy rating. One method is using resources such as the Internet to find this rating, by using the actual power output and consumption.
Other things to be aware of are the following:
- Cold air escaping from around your refrigerator
- Food not staying frozen or cold very well
- More water consumption (gallons per month, gpm) than expected
- Clothes being very wet when taken out of the washer
- Extra long drying cycles
If your appliances have any of these symptoms, you may want to consider investing in newer, more energy efficient appliances. Be sure to check out Part 2 of this article (How to Buy Energy Efficient Appliances) for learning how to replace your old energy consuming appliances by purchasing newer energy efficient appliances.