Find Energy-Efficient Appliances and Electronics

Reader Contribution by Megan E. Phelps
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Finding simple ways to save energy at home is always a good idea. Not only will you save money on your utility bills, but there are some solid environmental reasons to reduce your home energy use. Many products in our homes run on electricity, and while the use of renewable energy is growing, as of 2012, only 12 percent of our electricity came from renewable sources. The other 88 percent was generated by burning fossil fuels — including coal, natural gas and oil — and from nuclear energy. Using fossil fuels contributes to air pollution and climate change, and nuclear power has its own set of environmental issues, including safety concerns and questions about how to safely dispose of nuclear waste. 

When it’s time to buy a new refrigerator, computer, furnace, water heater or any other product that runs on electricity or natural gas, the resources below can help you make a smart selection.

Look for the Labels. When you’re shopping for appliances there are two labels to look for. One is the Energy Star label, which shows that a product meets the Energy Star program’s energy-efficiency standards. Many appliances qualify for the Energy Star label, so you shouldn’t have trouble finding one at a retailer near you. The other label you’ll likely see is the bright yellow EnergyGuide label. This is a government-mandated label designed to help you compare the energy use of different products. Each one gives you an estimate of yearly electricity use. This label is not required for every type of appliance, but when it’s there, it’s easy to spot.

Energy Star has a tremendous amount of information online, including energy-efficiency tips and a complete list of all products that are Energy Star qualified. The list covers a wide variety of products, including major home appliances; computers, televisions and other electronics; heating and cooling equipment; and even fans and light bulbs.

Another good resource is the website of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. (Just click on the Consumer Resources section to find product information.) This site has great energy saving tips and links to the Energy Star qualified products in each category. You’ll also find helpful links to Top Ten USA, another great place to find product information. It highlights the 10 most efficient models in each product category, and gives information on prices and where to find retailers. For example, all the “medium-sized refrigerators” listed on this site are Energy Star qualified, but this list features only the top ten most efficient. You can also sort by price. Using these resources is an easy way to start narrowing down your choices and create a short list of energy-efficient options. 

This blog is part of the MOTHER EARTH NEWS guide Find the Best Green Products and Services.

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