Appliances and Energy

As a college senior, I am starting to research the “real world”. Which essentially means that I am looking at a lot of things that cost a lot of money. A way to save money (and electricity) is by buying newer appliances when stocking your home. And while that might seem like a rather consumerist statement, appliances are a major drain of electricity. And the older they are, the less efficient they are. It is recommended that people replace their refrigerators every 15 years. What many people don’t realize is that 15 years is too long. You shouldn’t wait for the very last second to replace your appliances because more efficient products will have been put on the market in the meantime. Also, a 15 year old fridge is not nearly as efficient as a 3 year old fridge.

I want to compare new eco-friendly efficient models of appliances with their older counterparts. I think a lot of people have heard the common ways to reduce your electricity needs (by shutting off the lights when you are done with them or not cranking the a/c), but sometimes the only way to see true savings in both electricity/water usage is to buy newer models. This information is useful for people who are buying homes for the first time, those looking to renovate, those managing properties, and those renting them out. Also, this is good for businesses because they have capital available to make investments that might not pay off completely for a few years.

If you are researching appliance one phrase will keep popping up and that is “Energy Star.” Energy Star is not a brand, rather a program run by the Environmental Protection Agency that identifies brands that are efficient and reduce pollution. Products that have the Energy Star are ones that are very efficient. In fact, they exceed the current governmental goals for efficiency. In terms of energy, they go above and beyond what is required. For example according to The Dept of Energy, Energy Star refrigerators uses 40% less energy than standard models made in 2001. This does not only apply to fridges; dishwashers are a major drain of both electricity and water. According to the Home Water Works, the older units use between 12 and 15 gallons of water per cycle.  Energy Star dishwashers save 3 times the water compared to an older model. 

Pre 1994 Dishwashers

\[4\text{ Runs}\times12.5\text{ Gallons}=50\text{ Gallons per Week}\]

Energy Star Dishwashers

\[4\text{ Runs}\times4.25\text{ Gallons}\approx17\text{ Gallons per Week}\]


\[50\text{ Gallons}\div17\text{ Gallons}\approx{3}\]

 The National Resources Defense Council  has a lot of information about appliance replacement and energy savings. For example, one of the interesting ways to reduce your electric bill is to replace your water heater.  New homeowners often don’t consider this  when buying, but if they are more than 10 years old they can be less that 50% efficient. Also, if you replace a washing machine made before 1994 with an energy star model is can save a family $110 per year. They use 50% less energy and approximately 17 less gallons of water to run. As you can see below, the total amount of money normally spent on the appliance electricity is $247 dollars. Using the Energy Star washers will bring that down to $137. So there was a significant reduction in the total bill due to that one appliance being upgraded ($1950 compared to $2060 a year).

Amount of money spent on appliances:


Amount of money spent when you use the newer washer:

\[$247\text{ – }$110=$137\]

The rest of the electric bill:


The total electric bill with the new washing machine:

\[$1813\text{ + }$137=$1950\]

The average US household spends a lot of money on energy and electricity. According to Energy Star the bill usually totals around $2,060. 13% going towards water heating, 13% for cooling, 12% for appliances, 12% for lighting, 21% for electronics, and 29% for heating. Let’s  say that my neighbors house is 17 years old and they’ve never replaced the appliances. If they were to just replace their water heater, they would save about $134 per year. Water heaters can become 50% less efficient as they get older, meaning, they have to be run for twice as long to garner the same results. If the neighbors replaced theirs, it would cut the cost of their bill (the portion for water heating) in half. 



A visual representation of the electric bill

where does

Also, according to National Resources Defense Council , if they were to also replace their air conditioning unit, they would save an additional $14 dollars.

\[$2060\text{ – }$134\text{ – }$14\approx$1912\]

In conclusion, buying new appliances is spending money to save money. If you were raised in a household where the motto “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” was commonly said, it is time to reevaluate. The bottom line is that replacing your aging appliances is better for you in the long run. As you can see from the calculations above, it really is better for your wallet, and better for the environment to buy Energy Star rated products.


My first source is Dept of Energy . This is a credible sources because it is published by the United States government.

My second source is The Natural Resources Defense Council .  This is a credible source because it is an organization that is dedicated to reducing unnecessary resource usage. It is a website that has a lot of empirical data for a variety of products (fridge, washer, etc).

My third source is Energy Star . This source is credible because it is published by the EPA which is the Environmental Protection Agency which is a federal agency.

My fourth source is Home Water Works . This source is credible because it is a project of the Alliance for Water Efficiency which is an organization that collects information to advocate for the conservation of resources. Also, it was updated in 2016 which means all of the information is as accurate as possible.

This entry was posted in Student Writing. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply