Energy efficient appliances are all the rage these days and for good reason. In addition to reducing your carbon footprint, and improving outdoor air quality, they also save home owners considerable money in annual energy costs. There are several things to keep an eye on when you are in the market for a new appliance. Those are the Energy Star label, SEER or AFUE ratings, and the WaterSense label. Each of these will provide you with information about how a prospective appliance or plumbing feature compares with standard counterparts.
The Energy Star label was created by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a way for homeowners to easily spot appliances that will save them money - in addition to improving the health of our planet. Although Energy Star appliances may be more expensive than other models, the government-backed program guarantees they will earn the extra money back - and then some - via energy savings over a "reasonable amount of time." Because it requires high-quality engineering and craftsmanship to build exceptionally energy efficient appliances, homeowners often reap the additional benefit of lower maintenance costs over the lifetime of the appliance. The Energy Star website is an excellent source for information about everything "green" and energy efficient in the world of home improvement.
SEER and AFUE
Heating and cooling equipment are labeled with a SEER or AFUE rating, depending on the type of equipment you are evaluating. AFUE stands for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. You should see an AFUE rating on any fuel-burning heating appliance. The higher the rating, the more efficient the appliance. SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating. This measurement is visible on the packaging of cooling equipment. As with AFUE, The higher the rating, the better the energy efficiency. If you opt not to purchase a heating or cooling appliance with an Energy Star label, try to purchase one with the highest SEER or AFUE rating possible.
The WaterSense label is to plumbing fixtures and faucets as the Energy Star label is to appliances. Manufacturers of products with the WaterSense label guarantee their products are at least 20% more efficient than their standard counterparts. That is a pretty significant savings. In fact, the site advertises that even simple changes, such as adding a WaterSense aerator to your faucets or replacing your faucet with one that has a WaterSense label, can save your household as much as 11,000 gallons of water over the lifetime of the faucet! Visit the WaterSense website to learn more about how you can save water, to calculate your average water consumption, and to learn more about how you and your family can do your part to help conserve one of the planet's most precious resources.
Many municipalities are beginning to offer rebates to residents who purchase energy and water efficient appliances and plumbing fixtures. Hooray for us because Redwood City is one of them. Before you purchase your next appliance, keep your eye on the Star - the Energy Star that is, and begin to save multiple times over.