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This easy-to-read guide may help you understand how appliances are rated for efficiency, what the ratings mean, and what to look for while shopping for new appliances.
The ENERGY STAR label is the government's seal of approval. It was created by the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. These agencies set the criteria to help shoppers for large and small home appliances identify the most energy-efficient products on the market. ENERGY STAR-labeled appliances exceed existing federal efficiency standards, typically, by 13% to 20%, and as much as 110% for some appliances. Customers can be assured that the appliance being purchased is a high-performance product which will reduce the operating cost of that appliance or product every month during the course of its lifetime.
|Natural Gas and Oil Systems
||Look for the FTC EnergyGuide label with and AFUE Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) rating for gas- and oil-fired furnaces and boilers. The AFUE measures the seasonal or annual efficiency. ENERGY STAR® furnaces have a 90 AFUE or greater.||Bigger is not always better! Too large a system costs more and operates inefficiently. Have a professional assess your needs and recommend the type and size of system you should purchase.|
|Air-Source Heat Pumps
||Look for the EnergyGuide label that contains the SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) and HSPF (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor) for heat pumps. The SEAR measures the energy efficiency during the cooling season and HSPF measures the efficiency during the heating season. The ENERGY STAR® minimum efficiency level is 12 SEER or higher.||If you live in a cool climate, look for a heat pump with a high HSPF. If you purchase an ENERGY STAR® heat pump, you are getting a product that is in the top 25% for efficiency. Contact a professional for advice on purchasing a heat pump.|
|Look for the EnergyGuide label with a SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating) for central air conditioners. The ENERGY STAR® minimum efficiency level is 12 SEER. ENERGY STAR® central air conditioners exceed federal standards by at least 20%.||Air conditioners that bear the ENERGY STAR® label may be twice as efficient as some existing systems. Contact a professionalfor advice on sizing a central air system.|
|Look for the EnergyGuide label with an EER (Energy Efficiency Rating) for room air conditioners. The higher the EER, the more efficient the unit is. ENERGY STAR® units are among the most energy-efficient products.||Two major decisions should guide your purchase. Buy a correctly sized unit. Buy an energy-efficient unit. If the room is very sunny, increase capacity by 10%. If the unit is for a kitchen, increase the capacity by 4,000 Btu per hour. Be sure to buy a correctly sized unit!|
||For minimum ENERGY STAR® efficiency, thermostats should have at least two programs, four temperature settings each, a hold feature that allows users to temporarily override settings, and the ability to maintain room temperature with 2°F of desired temperature.||Look for a thermostat that allows you to easily use two separate programs; an "advanced recovery" feature that can be programmed to reach the desired temperature at a specific time; a hold feature that temporarily overrides the setting without deleting preset programs; and the ENERGY STAR® label.|
||Look for the EnergyGuide label that tells how much energy the water heater uses in one year. Also, look for the FHR (First Hour Rating) of the water heater, which measures the maximum hot water the heater will deliver in the first hour of use.||If you typically need a lot of hot water at once, the FHR will be important to you. Sizing is importantcall your local utility for advice.|
||Look for the NFRC (National Fenestration Rating Council) label that provides U-values and SHGC (solar heat gain coefficient) values. The lower the U-value, the better the insulation.||Look at the Climate Region Map on the ENERGY STAR® label to be sure that the window, door, or skylight you have selected is appropriate for where you live.|
|Refrigerators and Freezers
||Look for the EnergyGuide label that tells how much electricity, in kilowatt-hours (kWh), the refrigerator or freezer will use in one year. The smaller the number, the less energy it uses. ENERGY STAR® labeled units exceed federal standards by at least 20%.||Look for energy-efficient refrigerators and freezers. Refrigerators with freezers on top are more efficient than those with freezers on the side. Also look for heavy door hinges that create a good door seal.|
||Look for the EnergyGuide label that tells how much electricity, in kilowatt-hours (kWh), the dishwasher will use in one year. The smaller the number, the less energy it uses. ENERGY STAR® dishwashers exceed federal standards by at least 13%.||Look for features that will reduce water use, such as booster heaters and smart controls. Ask how many gallons of water the dishwasher uses during different cycles. Dishwashers that use the least amount of water will cost the least to operate.|
||Look for the EnergyGuide label that tells how much electricity, in kilowatt-hours (kWh), the clothes washer will use in one year. The smaller the number, the less energy it uses. ENERGY STAR® clothes washer uses less than 50% of the energy used by standard washers.||Look for the following design features that help clothes washers cut water usage: water level controls, "suds-saver" features, spin cycle adjustment, and large capacity. For double the efficiency, buy an ENERGY STAR® unit.|
Credits: US Department of Energy (http://www.eere.energy.gov/consumerinfo/energy_savers/shoppingguide.html)