If lower utility bills are not enough incentive for you to invest in energy-efficient appliances for your home, a new report by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) may help to convince you. The report found that not only do energy-efficient appliances save money by using less energy, they also provide the same or improved overall performance as older models and include a variety of new features. In many cases, product prices in real dollars have declined as energy efficiency has improved.
Benefits and features of energy-efficient appliances
Innovations made by manufacturers to comply with changing efficiency standards over the years has coincided with product improvements and added features that are attractive to consumers. The following are a few examples:
- The adoption of temperature sensors with electronic controls have improved temperature performance
- The use of variable-speed compressors and other innovations reduce energy use and noise levels
- New features, including water dispensers, in-the-door ice makers and additional compartments
- Overall, dishwashers have improved performance while using less energy and water
- Stainless steel tubs, which reduce noise, withstand higher temperatures and retain heat better, are widely used
- Popular features such as delayed start, adjustable cycle time, and water use based on soil level have become more common
- Today’s energy-efficient clothes washers do a better job of removing stains and are gentler on clothes than older models
- New features include electronic controls and displays, steam cycles and automatic dispensers
As appliances have improved in performance and energy efficiency, they have also become cheaper, according to the report. In 1987, the average price of a refrigerator was about $1,300 (in current dollars), while the average price in 2010 was $850—a decrease of 35 percent. During this same period, real prices for dishwashers fell by an average of 30 percent and clothes washers by 45 percent.
While prices have come down, appliance energy use has also declined. The report found that, on average, refrigerators and dishwashers manufactured in 2010 are 50 percent more efficient than 1987 models, while the average energy use of clothes washers has decreased by 75 percent.
It is clear that today’s energy-efficient appliances can provide value in more ways than one. If you are considering the purchase of a new appliance, look for models that are ENERGY STAR certified for high efficiency performance. State or local incentives may be available to help reduce your cost. Search the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency for programs available in your area.
See the ACEEE report Better Appliances: An Analysis of Performance, Features and Prices as Efficiency Has Improved for more information.