Earth Day is this Tuesday, April 22. In recent years, the focus of Earth Day has shifted to activities that the average person can do to reduce their environmental footprint. While there are many steps you can take, like composting and using energy-efficient lighting, in this post we will focus on energy efficiency in major appliances. Since there is a very small price premium for energy-efficient appliances, you should opt for more efficient choices when buying appliances for new construction. If you are considering replacing existing appliances, then here is a guide to items that will save the most energy (and thus money) over older models.
Furnaces and Air Conditioners
New gas furnaces are up to 98 percent efficient, while older models average around 80 percent efficiency. You can determine your existing furnace’s efficiency by finding the AFUE label on the device. This large gain in efficiency means that a new furnace will reduce the energy you need for heat and possibly pay for the upgrade within a few years. If you use electric resistance heat, including electric baseboards, then more efficient systems are not available. However, switching to an air or ground source heat pump will increase your efficiency if you wish to consider this method of heating. Like furnaces, air conditioners have become about 30 percent more efficient in recent years. If your air conditioner unit is over 20 years old, you should consider replacing it with a new, more efficient model.
Tankless Water Heaters
Tankless water heaters are a great way to increase your efficiency in heating water since they heat water on demand and therefore don’t have standby losses. These systems can reduce energy use by around 20 percent and are estimated to last up to 20 years, compared to the typical water heater, which typically only lasts 10-13. There may not be an immediate savings but there is a savings in the long run. A tankless water heater also has the great advantage that you can’t run out of hot water, which can be a great feature for homes that use a lot of hot water at once.
Washers and Dryers
A modern front-loading washing machine uses about half the water and 40 percent less energy than older, top-loading models. The Energy Star models cost about $750 on average and can save $135 a year in energy and water costs, so they can often pay for themselves in a little over 5 years. They also have the advantage of cleaning clothes more thoroughly while being gentler on your clothes, making this purchase a smart buy. On the other hand, there have been no increases in efficiency in dryers, so you should hang on to a working dryer. Of course, if you line-dry your clothes you will save a great deal of money on energy costs, while also better preserving your clothes.
Modern refrigerators are about 50 percent more efficient than models from only 10 years ago. If your refrigerator is over 20 years old replacing it can save you up to $200 a year in electricity costs. Consider buying a new model to meet all your refrigeration needs, since keeping an older, second refrigerator can cost a lot of wasted energy.
If you have any questions about how you can build a log home that’s energy-efficient and comfortable, call Real Log Homes today or fill out the form below for more information.