Save money and energy by replacing, adjusting home appliances

Mar 26, 2014

Want to save some money and help the planet at the same time? Then take a look at some of the gadgets and appliances in your house. By turning off, adjusting or swapping out some of the devices in your house, you can potentially save hundreds of dollars a year while reducing your carbon footprint.

I've been thinking a lot about conservation and lately. I've got a 60-year-old house with some fairly old and equipment. One of our toilets is likely is as old as the house. The water heater is more than 25 years old. At around eight years old, our clothes washer is new by comparison, but it's a top-loading model that guzzles up both water and electricity.

Unfortunately, I can't afford to replace everything, so I've been trying to figure out what changes might provide the most bang for the buck. Energy experts I spoke to offered some good suggestions that save lots of , often without big up-front costs.

In fact, you can save a good deal of money without spending a cent by adjusting the settings on some of your gadgets and other electronics equipment. Televisions, for example, are often set to look extra-bright so they stand out in showrooms. By turning down the brightness, you can save significant power and money.

The same is true with computers. Desktop computers in particular often use 60 watts or more. That may not sound like a lot, but it can add up if the computer is left on and in active mode 24 hours a day. By allowing your computer to go to sleep when it's not being used, its power consumption can drop to as little as 2 watts or less.

Game consoles, like computers, are often left on, sometimes inadvertently. They tend to be even hungrier for power than desktops, but can be set to automatically shut down when not in use. Consumer Reports estimates that console owners can save more than $100 a year by just turning off the devices when they're not being used.

In some cases, though, you'll need to buy new equipment to see savings in power and money. The best place to start, experts say, is with your light bulbs. Although power-sipping have been on the market for decades and LEDs have become more popular recently, about 70 percent of U.S. light sockets still have power-hogging incandescent bulbs in them, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. That's a huge target for savings because lighting accounts for about 12 percent of the average consumer's electrical bill and the newer bulbs use less than 30 percent of the consumed by incandescents.

You can now find CFLs for as little as a dollar a bulb and LEDs for less than $10 a bulb. Just by replacing your five most frequently used bulbs, you can save about $75 a year, according to the EPA. That means that even if you use the more expensive LED bulbs for those sockets, you can make back your investment in saved energy cost within a year.

Another prime candidate for energy and money savings is your refrigerator. Compared with older models, newer ones use as little as half of the electricity, said Noah Horowitz, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council. Depending on the size and age of your fridge, you could save well over $1,000 within five years by swapping it out for a newer model, according to EPA estimates.

The U.S. government's Energy Star program has an online calculator that can help you estimate how much you could save. Users simply plug in the style and approximate size and age of their fridge and the service estimates how much less expensive a new model would cost to operate.

If you don't have the money to buy a new fridge, you can still potentially save money. About a quarter of American homes have a second refrigerator, according to the EPA.

Because those appliances are typically located in uninsulated garages or basements, they have to work that much harder to stay cool in hot summers and can cost hundreds of dollars a year to run. By only plugging in that second fridge when it's absolutely needed - say, right before your Thanksgiving feast or other big occasions - you can save $250 a year, says the EPA.

One other big appliance to consider replacing is your washing machine. Older models, particularly top-loading ones that are seven or more years old, use two to three times as much energy and water as newer, front-loading ones, Horowitz said. Consumer Reports estimates that today's high-efficiency washers can cost $1,400 less to run over 10 years than the least-efficient models.

Since our fridge is only three years old and I've already swapped out most of our , that's what I'm likely to target next. Looks like it's time to go shopping.



You'll find some good guidelines and resources online for saving energy and money.

-Refrigerator comparison: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star program has a tool that compares the cost of running your current fridge with a new model.… on=refrig.calculator

-Other appliances: offers calculators that allow users to figure out if they'll save money by swapping out things such as their clothes washer, water heater or heating and cooling system:

-Light bulb lineup: The Natural Resources Defense Council provides a side-by-side comparison of using incandescent, CFL and LED bulbs:… s/lightbulbguide.pdf

-Rebates: Utilities often offer rebates to consumers who buy Energy Star-certified appliances. PG&E in particular provides a list of its rebate programs and applications:

-Savings checklist: Utility company PG&E has also put together a list of energy-saving tips:… /anytime/index.shtml

-Helpful tips: The NRDC's Noah Horowitz frequently writes on his blog about how consumers can conserve energy and save money:

-Room by room: The Energy Star website allows users to walk through a virtual house, offering efficiency tips for particular devices in each room:… ion=popuptool.atHome

Explore further: Modeling platform shows environmental impact of retrofitted buildings


Related Stories

Home electricity use in US falling to 2001 levels

Dec 30, 2013

The average amount of electricity consumed in U.S. homes has fallen to levels last seen more than a decade ago, back when the smartest device in people's pockets was a Palm pilot and anyone talking about ...

Energy savings in the kitchen

Feb 11, 2014

Because the kitchen contains many large and small appliances that are used daily, the kitchen is a good area to reduce energy.

A new refrigerator could save you cool cash

Mar 30, 2009

Is your refrigerator eating you out of house and home? Chances are, if it's more than 10 years old, it's gulping enough energy to put a serious hurt on your wallet.

Save energy, money with Philips AmbientLED 12.5 watt

Feb 16, 2011

The world's first LED replacement for a 60-watt incandescent bulb is now also the first to earn ENERGY STAR qualification. Philips Lighting announced today that the Philips AmbientLED 12.5 watt (also sold professionally under ...

Recommended for you

Reliable systems for recharging electric vehicles

16 hours ago

The success of electric vehicle networks depends on economical vehicles – and efficient power grids. Existing power lines were not designed for the loads generated by electric vehicles. Fraunhofer researchers ...

Saving energy with smart facades

17 hours ago

Glass-fronted office buildings are some of the biggest energy consumers, and regulating their temperature is a big job. Now a façade element developed by Fraunhofer researchers and designers for glass fronts ...

Latin America divided between oil and green energy

19 hours ago

Latin America spends billions of dollars subsidizing fossil fuels each year, but also has some of the world's largest renewable power programs, highlighting the energy-hungry region's divisions as it charts ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.