You’ve probably already greened your lifestyle a bit by switching to reusable grocery bags, figuring out how to use your town’s recycling services and planting trees with your neighborhood group, but greening your home can be more challenging — mainly because new, more efficient windows and appliances require a lot more coin than cloth bags and potting soil. And maybe you’re thinking, “If it ain’t broke, there’s no need to fix it.” After all, some of the best-made kitchen appliances are growing old quite gracefully.
Fair enough. But don’t overlook the energy bills you’re paying to run the legacy appliances. That old air conditioner needs to be on max just to get a cool breeze; it’s using far more power than an efficient model would. And the old washing machine you took from your parent’s house when they finally upgraded — right, the one that’s still getting grass stains out of baseball pants — requires far more water and energy than a new model would.
And, sure, you can get a replacement part for the hulking fridge that’s older than your dad, but there comes a time in even the best appliance’s life when repair bills start to dwarf replacement costs. Putting money into new Energy Star rated appliance can help lower your electric, gas and/or water bills while also helping you to conserve resources and minimizing the impact you’re making on the planet.
Here are three of the most common appliances in the home that can lead to a greener lifestyle:
You may assume that washing dishes by hand is the most resource-efficient approach of getting your plates clean. But using a low-water factor dishwasher (the number of gallons used per load) actually requires far less water than hand washing. You can even skip rinsing dishes before loading your appliance; most modern machines get food waste off. Just scrape waste food into your garbage disposal, compost or trashcan and run your dishwasher when it’s completely full.
Washing machines are naturally the biggest power and water hogs in the home. Most families do multiple loads of laundry each week, and operating older models can get very pricy. Become more resource savvy by following these traditional laundry tips: Wash only full loads; lower the water temperature to warm or cold, not hot; and pretreat clothing before laundering to remove stains. Run the dryer only for the amount of time needed to dry your clothing. When possible, air dry clothes instead of using the dryer.
When you’re ready to switch out your old washer and dryer, find an Energy-Star rated model. Look for washing machines with a low water factor, adjustable cycle and water temperature settings. A new model, like the LG washing machine, will save money each time you operate it, without sacrificing cleanliness. For your clothes dryer, find a model with multiple settings.
Refrigerators use a lot of energy to keep your food cold. In fact, this is often the most expensive appliance in terms of energy use, especially if your fridge/freezer was made before 1993. The Environmental Protection Agency says that replacing an old fridge with an efficient model may save you enough energy to light your home for four months.
New appliances vary considerably in cost, but you may be able to save by purchasing a model that comes with a rebate or by shopping during seasonal sales. Just remember that if green appliances are more expensive at the outset, purchasing them can help you save money over time by lowering utility bills. You can recoup the added initial expense in a short amount of time and begin saving money every month — money you can put toward something you really want or need. Envisioning your next vacation yet?