What Should I Look For In Energy-Efficient Appliances?

What should I look for in energy-efficient appliances?

Energy efficiency refers to using less energy to provide the same service. Energy-efficient appliances allow homeowners to reduce their energy consumption and save on utility bills. With rising energy prices, energy-efficient appliances are becoming increasingly important for budget-conscious homeowners.

Investing in energy-efficient appliances can provide several benefits beyond cost savings on utility bills. Energy-efficient appliances reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants by using less electricity. They also conserve natural resources and reduce pollution involved in energy production. Additionally, energy-efficient appliances often have advanced features that improve convenience and performance.

When shopping for new appliances, it is important to look for the Energy Star label. This indicates the appliance meets strict energy efficiency criteria set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Energy (DOE). Key factors to evaluate include the initial purchase price, expected energy savings, and available rebates and tax credits for energy-efficient models.

This guide provides an overview of what to look for when buying energy-efficient refrigerators, dishwashers, washing machines, dryers, ovens, microwaves, and air conditioners.


When looking for an energy-efficient refrigerator, focus on the EnergyStar rating. According to Energystar.gov, EnergyStar certified refrigerators offer high efficiency compressors that create less heat and use less energy compared to standard models. They also have improved insulation and more precise temperature and defrost mechanisms.

Consider the size carefully. The most efficient refrigerators are usually 16-20 cubic feet according to Constellation.com. Opting out of an icemaker can also reduce energy use. Look for useful features like automatic or “smart” defrosting. This allows the fridge to determine the optimal defrost cycles rather than running on a fixed schedule.

Other factors like the number of doors, finish, and design elements may affect the efficiency. But in general, an EnergyStar certified refrigerator in the 16-20 cubic foot range with a high-efficiency compressor and features like auto defrost will provide the best energy savings.


When shopping for an energy efficient dishwasher, look for models with an EnergyStar rating. These dishwashers are designed to use less energy and water than standard models. The most efficient EnergyStar dishwashers use less than 4 gallons of water per cycle and under 300 kWh per year.

Pay attention to the water usage specifications of the dishwasher. Many new dishwashers have sensors that adjust the water usage based on the load size which helps save water. Choose a dishwasher with multiple wash cycle options so you can select the one that uses the least amount of water for that particular load.

Also look for features like soil sensors, which assess how dirty the dishes are and adjust the wash time accordingly. This prevents overwashing dishes when they aren’t very dirty and saves energy.

When it comes to drying, condensation drying and hybrid drying systems are more energy efficient than full cycle heating drying. With condensation drying, the steam condenses on the tub walls and drains out rather than needing heat to dry the dishes. Hybrid systems use a combination of condensation drying and a short final heat cycle.

Choosing an EnergyStar rated dishwasher with optimized wash and dry cycles and multiple load size settings will help you reduce energy and water usage.

Washing Machines

When looking for an energy-efficient washing machine, consider ENERGY STAR certified models. According to the EPA, ENERGY STAR certified clothes washers use 25% less energy and 33% less water on average. Front-loading washing machines are generally more efficient than top-loading models.

Front-loading washing machines use less water and energy compared to top-loaders. According to Home Depot, front-loaders use 15-30 gallons of water per load, while top-loaders use 20-40 gallons per load. Front-loaders also spin clothes faster, resulting in less drying time and energy usage.

For top-loading models, look for an ENERGY STAR rating and for features like high-efficiency agitators that use less water. Some top models include the LG WT7300CW and the Samsung WA45T6000AW.


When looking for an energy-efficient dryer, focus on models with an ENERGY STAR certification. These dryers are designed to use at least 20% less energy than standard models. Opt for a ventless heat pump dryer over a vented electric dryer for even more efficiency, as ventless models recirculate hot air rather than exhausting it outside.

Also look for dryers with moisture sensor technology, which automatically shuts off the machine when clothes are dry. This prevents over-drying and saves energy. Some dryers even allow you to target specific dryness levels to maximize efficiency.

Gas dryers are typically more energy efficient than electric dryers. However, the most efficient electric dryers with a heat pump system can surpass gas models. Compare the ENERGY STAR scores when deciding between specific models.


When shopping for an energy-efficient oven or range, there are a few key features to look for.

First, check the EnergyStar ratings. Ovens and ranges that have earned the EnergyStar label have met strict energy efficiency requirements set by the EPA. EnergyStar ovens use 15-20% less energy than standard models.

Next, consider the fuel type. Electric ovens tend to be more energy efficient than gas models. However, induction ranges are the most efficient electric option. They use electromagnetic energy to directly heat the pan rather than heating the stovetop surface.

Finally, look for ranges and ovens with a self-cleaning function. This feature uses high heat to burn off spills and baked-on grime, saving energy compared to hand scrubbing.

When shopping, focus on the EnergyStar rating first, then consider fuel type and special features like self-cleaning mode. An efficient oven/range will provide years of cooking while keeping energy bills low.


When selecting an energy efficient microwave, look for models with an EnergyStar rating. These microwaves meet strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the EPA and Department of Energy. Specifically, an EnergyStar certified microwave oven will use around 15% less energy than a standard model.

Also pay attention to the wattage, as higher-wattage microwaves use more electricity. A good energy efficient wattage is between 600-1000W. Additionally, choose a model with sensors that detect when food is cooked and shut off automatically. This prevents overcooking and saves energy.


When shopping for an energy-efficient dishwasher, look for models with an EnergyStar rating. These models are independently certified to save energy and water compared to standard models. According to EnergyStar, certified dishwashers are over 15% more energy efficient and 25% more water efficient.

Pay attention to cycle times as well. Shorter cycle times save energy by reducing the amount of time the dishwasher heats water. Look for normal wash cycles under 1 hour. Some dishwashers also have soil sensors that adjust the cycle based on how dirty the dishes are, avoiding wasted energy on extra cleaning for lightly soiled loads.

In Consumer Reports tests of eco-friendly dishwashers, top-rated models included Bosch, GE, and Maytag dishwashers with soil sensors and cycle times around 1 hour. Wirecutter also recommends Bosch dishwashers for their cleaning performance, low noise levels, and energy efficiency.

Air Conditioners

When shopping for an energy-efficient air conditioner, look for units with a high Energy Star rating. The Energy Star program rates air conditioners based on their seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) and energy efficiency ratio (EER). The higher these ratios are, the more energy efficient the unit will be.

It’s also important to properly size your air conditioner. An oversized unit will cycle on and off frequently, using more energy overall. Use a sizing calculator to determine the appropriate BTU rating based on room size and climate. Select a model that is correctly sized for optimal efficiency.

Finally, install a programmable thermostat that allows you to set customized temperature schedules. You can raise the temperature when you are away at work or lower it at night while you sleep. Programmable thermostats help ensure you only use the AC when truly needed.


When shopping for new appliances, energy efficiency should be a top consideration. Energy efficient models offer significant long-term cost savings and environmental benefits. The key things to look for are the Energy Star logo and related energy ratings like EF, MEF, and CEER for specific appliance types. Models with induction cooktops, heat pump technology, and inverter compressors typically offer the best efficiency. Carefully compare similar models and don’t assume Energy Star means it’s the most efficient option. Focus purchases on the most used appliances first, like refrigerators and washing machines. Over time, replacing older appliances with energy efficient models can lead to major energy savings. Buying energy efficient is an investment that pays off.

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