When the U.S. government rolled out its Energy Star program and its subsequent Energy Star rated products, environmentalists, green-thinkers and anyone aiming to be a little more energy-cautious nodded in approval. However, homeowners were still asking one important question: can these Energy Star products save us money?
What it Means to Buy Energy Star
Products that carry the sky-blue Energy Star sticker are deemed energy efficient through the Energy Star program, which was created and managed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The program aims to provide consumers with energy efficient appliance and product options, as well as partnering with local governments, utility departments and nonprofits to promote energy conservation nationwide.
For so long, homeowners have been under the impression that energy efficiency equates to cost effectiveness, but is there truth in this line of thinking?
How Popularity Lowered the Price of Energy Star Products
Let’s start at the initial costs of appliances and products like fridges, dishwashers, dryers, freezers, stoves, air conditioners, etc. that are Energy Star certified compared to the pricing of those that aren’t slapped with this special sticker. It used to be the case that Energy Star products were more expensive in their upfront purchase price in contrast to the products that were non-certified. In fact, non-certified appliances would cost anywhere from $30-$200 cheaper than their Energy Star counterparts.
Nowadays, this is no longer true. Energy Star products have risen in their popularity and consumers are choosing these appliances instead of non-certified ones, despite the fact that in the past, there may have been a dramatic price difference between the two.
The demand has changed the manufacturing process, and now more companies are opting to put out Energy Star products to keep up with consumer’s preferences. This supply and demand of Energy Star products has evened out the cost, making anything Energy Star more affordable. Sometimes, Energy Star products are cheaper than those that are non-certified.
A Lifetime of Savings With Energy Star?
You’ve made the Energy Star purchase without breaking the bank. Now, will it make a name for itself in terms of an energy and money saving investment?
Your energy savings will depend on what you’re replacing and a few other factors that could be determine the amount you keep in your pocket instead of spending on your monthly energy bill.
To make it easy for consumers to see the striking difference in savings between Energy Star and non-certified models, the EPA compiled data available from 2015. For example, a clothes washer will save the average American household $40 per year compared to a non-certified model, which translates to $189 in a 5-year savings, and for an average lifespan of 11-years, that’s $415 in total savings. A clothes washer is perhaps one of the most impressive feats of savings.
For other appliances, the average household can still pocket a nice chunk of change, but depending on what appliance it is, the savings will vary. Other appliances that were studied through the Energy Star research included air conditioners, air purifiers, dehumidifiers and clothes dryers. All of these can save you around $100 or more over the span of the appliance’s lifetime.
Another example is a dishwasher. Comparably, a dishwasher won’t rack in the big bucks like a clothes washer will in terms of savings. The cost of savings per year is $2, then over a 5-year savings that’s $10, and for its average of 10-year lifespan, that’s just $20. You aren’t reeling in serious cash with an Energy Star dishwasher, but $20 is still $20. Why not select the Energy Star model to dually save a few bucks and help the environment?
Factors That Contribute to Your Energy Star Savings
As we’ve mentioned before, there are other factors that come into play with your Energy Star savings. It’s not just about making an Energy Star purchase, it’s about being smart in how you run and maintain them.
Dishwashers should be fully loaded whenever possible. The reason why dishwashers don’t save nearly as much as other appliances is because they use the same amount of energy and water, regardless of the number of plates, dishes and silverware inside. You can also save on energy and money by skipping the heat on the dishwasher’s cycle. The no-heat drying option will still provide ample drying results without the energy and cost behind it.
Energy Star certified freezers should be kept cool, but not too cold. Setting your Energy Star freezer to max cool will utilize more energy and money. Keep your freezer’s temperature at zero degrees Fahrenheit instead. Also, allow for optimal air circulation in the freezer by leaving a few inches of space between the wall and the freezer.
This will prevent the freezer from overworking itself, thus saving energy and money while it’s functioning. Keep an eye on the freezer’s seal periodically. If the seal isn’t tight, you’re losing cold air and the freezer will try to compensate, draining energy in the process.
The savings also becomes much more evident if you’re replacing an appliance that’s at the end of its life, old, and outdated. Its clunky and an energy-consuming monstrosity, and you’re purchasing an Energy Star certified product to take up its mantle of duties. Of course, you can expect your savings to skyrocket.
It’s a good idea to have all of your Energy Star certified appliances regularly inspected and to keep the manufacturer’s manuals handy for all of your products. Ensuring that your Energy Star products are operating properly will keep them on track for their lifetime of savings.
The Clear Difference Between Energy Star and Non-Certified Products
Energy Star certified products are manufactured with energy efficiency in mind. An Energy Star freezer is at least 10% more energy efficient than the minimum federal standard, Energy Star refrigerators about 9% and Energy Star dehumidifiers use 15% less energy than standard models. Energy Star dishwashers are 5% more energy efficient and 15% more water efficient than standard, non-certified models.
The difference is evident. With technology becoming more cutting-edge behind product advancement, Energy Star models are only going to become more energy efficient, resulting in larger savings over their lifetime.
You can take a deeper dive into the data, too. The Energy Star program logs how many kWh of electricity a full size electric clothes dryer that’s Energy Star certified will save over the course of its lifetime. However the math always adds up: any Energy Star product will save you money.
Whether it’s a couple bucks (an Energy Star dishwasher) or a couple hundred bucks (an Energy Star clothes washer), anything that’s been programmed to be energy efficient the way an Energy Star product has been will function on less energy, thus costing less to run.
Homeowners may have been dubious at the time of the Energy Star program’s launch. A promise that these costly appliances will save them energy expenditures, which directly translates to a lower monthly energy bill is bound to raise a dubious eyebrow or two. The facts, however, don’t lie.
The Energy Star program is decidedly not a scam, but in fact a wave of reinvented products that aim to save homeowners money and hopes to change our national carbon footprint, one appliance at a time.