Time to Upgrade Appliances?

December 1, 2010 at 10:12 am 1 comment

In our Habit of the Month column, we usually look at little things that you can do everyday to live more sustainably. This month, let’s look at the tools we use every day and see if they could use an upgrade. If you own your house, this is your decision. If you rent, these tips may help you convince your landlord that you need to upgrade! According to the U.S. Dept of Energy, lighting, refrigeration and cooking are responsible for 41.5% of a home’s energy consumption. We can all take step to reduce our use (full dishwashers, shorter showers,etc) but sometimes it is time replace. Every household is different though so assess and decide what is right for you.

Make a list of which appliances you would like to upgrade and choose the one that will make the biggest difference in your energy costs. Currently, Hawaii Electric is offering rebates to encourage people to update and maintain the big energy users in our homes. Where there is a
*$xxx it means that it is eligible for a Hawaii Energy rebate if you buy a qualified model and/or use a qualified service person! When buying new appliances always look for Energy Star Rating.

Ceiling Fan (*$40) — Just changing your older ceiling fan out can reduce energy use by 50%. Make sure to turn off ceiling fans when you aren’t in the room. People don’t think about it, but using your ceiling fan with A/C will allow you to keep A/C at higher temp and still be comfortable.

Refrigerator (*$50) – Some new refrigerators are claiming to using equivalent power to a 60-watt lightbulb…pretty incredible! On average a new refrigerator will take 40% less energy. If you don’t want to upgrade, try adjusting your thermostat settings (37 degrees F for refrigerator and 3 degrees F for freezer is recommended) and clean and repair seals.

Window Air Conditioner (*$50) Newer models will save 10% annual savings. If possible, install them in shaded locations (north side of home or plant a tree!) for more efficiency.
Ductless Split Air Conditions (*$110) Split A/C system are more energy efficient than central air because they can be adjusted to cool specific areas of the home.
Central A/C Maintenance (*$50) Just keeping your central air conditioner tuned and cleaned can save up to 20%. Ensure your ducts, filters and coils are in good working order by having your system checked by a qualified serviceperson and get a rebate!

Washer (*$50) Newer models save both water(20-35%) and energy (50%) while cleaning your clothes better and reducing wear and tear on your washables. Although it isn’t eligible for rebate, get a new dryer that has a moisture sensor option. This will save energy and reduce wear on your clothing. Or better yet, use a solar drying device (clothesline) for the most savings. If you like the "tumbled softness", air dry and then throw in the dryer on air dry for 10 minutes.

Dishwasher (*$50) A newer dishwasher reduces water use by 25% and energy by 33%.

Solar Water Heater (*$750 + 35% state tax credit + 30% federal tax credit) According to HECO, 35% of the typical electric bill goes to heating water. Going solar gives you a whopping 90% saving. Here in South Maui, we are great candidates for Solar Water Heating. If you can’t move to solar check out heat pumps or high efficiency water heaters.

Computers — 90% of desktop computers are not energy efficient. If buying a new computer, a laptop will save power and give you more flexibility. Change out your old monitor with a flat screen for more saving. Take advantage of sleep and hibernate setting to automatically shut off power when you walk away.

Solar Attic Fan – Keeping your attic cool can reduce your air conditioning needs and extend the life of your roof. Sometimes just getting proper ventilation will help, so many homes in South Maui are not properly vented. A properly installed solar fan can be much cheaper than fixing bad ventilation.

Here are some great online resource and sources of information used in this article.


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Entry filed under: Building & Remodeling, Recycling & Conservation, Solar Hot Water. Tags: , , , , , .

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