Includes Listing of Used Appliance Recyclers
— Reprinted from The Greater Los Angeles Green Pages and www.aceee.org Energy runs appliances. Saving energy helps the environment by reducing carbon dioxide emissions given off by energy plants. One kilowatt hour of electricity generates two pounds of CO2, our biggest global warming gas. Refrigerators alone consume 7% of the nation’s total electricity. Saving energy also saves money; appliances, heating and cooling cost an average household more than $1,000 per year. You can sharply reduce your own energy bill by replacing your old juice-hogs with new, high-effiency major appliances and space conditioning equipment right now. The biggest energy consumers are the refrigerator, water heater, heating and air conditioning units, especially if they are electric – in other words, the major appliances that tend to be switched on for a long time. The time to replace these is sooner than later. Don’t wait until they break down and you are forced to run out and buy the best replacement you can afford or get quickly in an emergency. It pays to learn ahead of time what the best models are, and where to find them. If you are a renter, and especially if you pay your own utility bills, you should lobby your landlord for needed major appliance improvements. If there are many people in the building, form a committee to look into energy issues and make a recommendation for improvements to tenants and landlord alike. But don’t stop there – you should also lobby public officials, agencies, and utilities to make low-interest loans available for energy improvements to owners of rental units.
The best way to understand the ins and outs of energy effiency, appliances and your particular situation is by reading the book, Consumer Guide to Home Energy Savings ($9), put out by the American Council for an Energy-Effiency Economy in cooperation with Home Energy magazine. Also, check out The Most Energy Efficient Appliances ($4), which is a booklet that contains top-rated residential equipment on the U.S. market and the latest compilation of the most efficient appliances, including refrigerators, dishwashers, clothes washers, water heaters, central and room air conditioners, central heat pumps, and furnaces and boilers. See www.aceee.org before buying anything. You will learn important concepts and lingo, and if you use its advice you will save money, consume less energy, and protect the atmosphere. (From The L.A. Green Pages)
When it comes time to buy a new refrigerator, it definitely pays to shop around for an energy-efficient model. Even though federal law mandates certain energy efficiency levels for refrigerators, there is still significant variation from model to model. Look for the ENERGY STAR® label to identify efficient models.
As you shop for a new refrigerator, consider what style and features you want, and what the energy penalties might be. For example, side-by-side refrigerator/freezers use more energy than similarly sized models with the freezer on the top. Built-in designer refrigerators may also consume more energy than store models, but are less wasteful than they used to be since the national appliance energy standards took effect. Manual defrost models use less electricity than automatic defrost models but are not widely available in large sizes. However, manual defrost models must be defrosted periodically to maintain their energy efficiency. Features such as automatic icemakers and through-the-door dispensers can increase energy consumption somewhat.
Consider size as well when shopping for a refrigerator. Generally, the larger the unit, the greater the energy consumption. Too large a model will result in wasted space and energy; too small a model could mean extra trips to the supermarket. However, some refrigerator sizes tend to be more efficient. Currently, the most efficient models are in the most popular 16-20 ft3 range. You may find that a more efficient 18 ft3 model costs less to run than a 15 ft3 model with similar features.
If you are thinking of buying a second refrigerator, you might want to reconsider. It is generally much less expensive to buy and operate one big refrigerator than two small ones. If the extra refrigerator is an old model, it’s probably an energy guzzler. If you only need a second refrigerator a few days a year or to hold a few six-packs of beer, why spend an extra $50-150 per year in electricity?
Should I replace my existing heating system? This can be a difficult question. If you heat with electric resistance heat, rising electricity prices may force you to switch to a gas, oil, or heat pump system that is more affordable. If you currently have a gas- or oil-fired furnace or boiler, the decision to replace it depends on its age, condition, and performance.
If your furnace or boiler is old, worn out, inefficient, or significantly oversized, the simplest solution is to replace it with a modern high-efficiency model. Old coal burners that were switched over to oil or gas are prime candidates for replacement, as are gas furnaces without electronic (pilot less) ignition or a way to limit the flow of heated air up the chimney when the heating system is off (vent dampers or induced draft fan).
A typical heating system will last about 25 years, though some boilers can last twice that long. Your heating system technician or energy auditor may be able to help you evaluate your existing system and decide whether replacement is a good idea.
There’s a lot of money to be saved each year when you consider the expected lifetime of a heating system. Unlike most other investments, energy conservation investments are tax free.
A 14% return is pretty good – much higher than what you receive from a savings account or certificate of deposit. Plus, unlike most other investments, energy conservation investments are tax free. If fuel prices go up, the annual savings and return on investment also go up. For example, if fuel prices increase 30%, the annual savings in this example increases to $456, and the return on investment increases to 18%.