Los Angeles Times
UNDERSTANDING APPLIANCE ENERGY RATINGS
Consumers aren’t only experiencing sticker shock at the gasoline pump nowadays. Energy costs are going up for electricity, natural gas, and water, too, the resources that our home appliances rely on.
While homeowners don’t want to cut back on cleaning laundry, running the dishwasher, or operating the AC on a sweltering summer day, they can make strides to reduce in-home power and water consumption by choosing appliances with favorable energy ratings.
“The energy rating label on appliances provides an estimate of how much energy in kilowatt-hours (kWh) that appliance will use over a year,” says Ken Summers, senior technical specialist for Aeroseal in Miamisburg, Ohio. “This is based on assumptions about average usage and allows consumers to estimate how much it will cost them to run that appliance. It also allows consumers to easily compare the energy use of similar products.”
Appliances are rated on a scale of A through G, with “A” being the most efficient product of its class and “G” being the least efficient, according to Gabe Pinchev, founder/CEO of Dallas-based FieldPulse.
It’s easy to get confused between an appliance’s energy rating and an Energy Star certification, which are two separate but somewhat similar things. The former helps you determine the potential annual cost of operating the appliance, while the latter is like a government seal of approval that the device is extra efficient.
“An Energy Star certification requires that the product meets certain energy efficiency criteria set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This criterion requires the product to maintain high quality while using less energy and without sacrificing performance, thereby saving the consumer money,” Pinchev adds. “Energy Star-certified appliances are also designed to cause fewer harmful emissions from power plants, thus better protecting the environment.”
Energy Star scores range from 1 to 100. A score considered “good” is 75 or higher, while a score of 50 is average. Overall, the higher the Energy Star score, the more energy-efficient the appliance is.
It’s good practice to pay attention to both the energy rating of an appliance and if it has earned an Energy Star certification.
Before purchasing any appliance, Davin Eberhardt, founder of Nature of Home, recommends checking for incentives and rebates on the local, state, and federal levels, which may be indicated at the brick-and-mortar or online retailer. Also, buy only as large of an appliance as you need.