How to save money and energy by upgrading appliances

How much are your old appliances really costing you?

If you’re like the average Canadian homeowner, the answer to that question is: “A lot.” It is estimated that large household appliances like fridges, dishwashers, and clothes dryers account for up to 12 percent of the energy consumed in the typical Canadian home. Fortunately, modern appliances have come a long way in terms of efficiency over the last few years. Below are a few simple appliance upgrades that will help reduce your energy usage over the long run.

Dishwasher

According to Natural Resources Canada, modern ENERGY STAR certified dishwashers use 12 percent less energy, on average, than older models. Newer dishwashers also have water-saving features, such as:

  • Improved water filtration
  • More efficient jets
  • Quick-wash cycles
  • Special sensors that get detect food particles on dishes and adjust the cleaning cycle as needed

Dishwashers are cheap appliances, so it’s worth replacing an old or inefficient one right away. When shopping for a new unit, keep in mind that the ENERGY STAR rating does not take water consumption into consideration.

Range

Upgrading to a modern range will allow you to take advantage of innovative features like temperature monitoring, warming areas, variable-broil settings, electronic controls, and self-cleaning functions. Newer cooktops also have tighter door seals and improved oven insulation to allow for more even cooking while reducing your energy consumption.

Finding the right range for your kitchen is a matter of deciding what you need in terms of features, style, and space. Since new models must meet the minimum energy performance standards set by Canada’s Energy Efficient Regulations, there are no ENERGY STAR ratings on cooktops, ovens, and ranges.

Refrigerator

If you have an older side-by-side refrigerator, it may be time for an upgrade. Top-freezer models that are ENERGY STAR certified are the most efficient, using less energy than a 60-watt lightbulb. Even if you stick to a side-by-side design, newer models feature improved insulation and compressors that help lower your utility bills over time. Refrigerators manufactured in the last few years have special features like digital touch-screen displays advanced temperature regulation systems, and WiFi connectivity.

Washer

Modern top-load washers have more efficient motors, faster spin speeds, and sensors that regulate water levels and temperatures. They also spin clothes through a stream of water rather than filling the entire basin, which saves energy and water. Front-load washers require very little water and have a greater clothing capacity, reducing both your utility bill and the number of loads you need to wash. A new ENERGY STAR certified washing machine uses 25 percent less energy and 45 percent less water, on average, than older units. For maximum long-term energy savings, look for a unit with a high Integrated Modified Energy Factor (IMEF).

Dryer

New dryers have special features like automatic shut-off sensors, extra-low heat settings, and “heat pump” functions that use recirculated ambient heat to remove moisture from clothes. Clothes dryers aren’t rated by ENERGY STAR, as all new units must meet Energy Efficiency Regulations standards. If you’re upgrading your washing machine at the same time, check appliance stores in your area for an appliance sale where you can get a deal on a washer/dryer combo.

When upgrading your appliances, it’s important to consider the cost of operating the appliance over its life time in addition to its purchase price. For maximum energy savings over time, stick to appliances that have been certified by the ENERGY STAR program.