Do you have outdated appliances?

Saying goodbye to them can lower your power bills
By Luann Dart
Do you have outdated appliances?

By default, new televisions are set to dynamic, high-contrast settings. This consumes more power than standard, lower-contrast settings. Calibrate your TV by adjusting the contrast and brightness to a moderate level.

Saying goodbye to an old friend can be daunting. But pulling the plug on an outdated refrigerator or dishwasher might save you money. New appliances usually are much more energy-efficient.

A new refrigerator consumes 75 percent less energy than a 1970s model. Replace a vintage clothes washer and you can save $60 on utility bills and nearly 5,000 gallons of water a year, according to the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers. Not every new appliance is a good bet. Always look for the Energy Star label. It signals energy-efficient models.

Ready to save? Let's find opportunities!

Kitchen & laundry

In the laundry room, a full-size, Energy Star-certified clothes washer uses 15 gallons of water per load, compared to the 23 gallons used by a standard machine. During the machine's lifetime, this saves 27,000 gallons of water.

Replacing your older refrigerator with an Energy Star-certified model can save between $200 and $1,100 in lifetime energy costs. Today's average refrigerator uses less energy than a continuously lit 60-watt light bulb.

Was your dishwasher built before 1994? If so, you're paying an extra $40 a year on your utility bills compared to neighbors with an Energy Star-certified model.

Televisions

TVs are a bit more baffling. As screen sizes increase, energy consumption may also rise. You can still be a savvy shopper. TVs that have the Energy Star certification are about 25 percent more efficient than models that don't. LED screens use 20 percent less energy than LCD TVs.

Once you purchase a TV, calibrate it by adjusting the contrast and brightness to a moderate level. By default, new televisions are set to dynamic, high-contrast settings. This consumes more power than standard, lower-contrast settings.

Savvy moves either way

Can't afford something new now, but you still want to save some energy? Set your water heater at 120 degrees and be sure your clothes washer or dishwasher is full when you use them. (The greatest expense when washing dishes or clothes is heating the water.)

More tips

  • Too cold food: In the kitchen, make sure you aren't keeping your refrigerator and freezer too cold. Recommended temperatures: 37 to 40 degrees for the fresh food compartment and 5 degrees for the freezer section.
  • Toast, don't roast: Use toaster ovens or microwave ovens for small meals rather than your large stovetop or oven.
  • Air dry the dishes: Use the dishwasher's "eco" option or use a no-heat air dry feature.
  • Laundry washing: Wash clothes in cold water using cold-water detergents whenever possible. Adjust load settings for smaller loads.
  • Lose that lint: Clean the lint screen in the dryer after every use to improve the dryer's efficiency.

About the Author

Luann Dart writes on energy efficiency issues for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

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