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Save money with energy efficient appliances

We recently bought a new home that came with appliances. Unfortunately, they came with the same appliances that would have been installed when the house was built in the late 70s. They are not, to say the least, energy-efficient appliances. I like to think that when we turned the dryer on, not only would our lights dim, but the whole neighborhood would sense a loss of power while the dryer started to turn. So one of the first things that we did was start looking and shopping for some more energy-efficient appliances. The new technology that focuses on keeping energy costs low can save you a ton of money on a yearly basis – but just how much money are we talking about? Is it worth investing money upgrading to energy-efficient appliances now or should you wait out the lifespan of your current appliances? Let’s take a look at the numbers.

Energy costs

Electricity costs money. Where you live and how much you use will determine your actual electricity bill each month, but you’ll end up paying something to use your fancy new appliances. Appliances have two costs. The first is the upfront price that you pay in order to get the appliance into the home. The second price that you pay is the cost to run that appliance over its lifespan. These costs, depending on the device, may not be very much on a daily, or monthly basis, but if you consider that most large appliances will last around a decade, we’re talking about 10 years of owning and operating a major appliance that can vary vastly in energy costs.
Even brand new models can have very energy efficient and inefficient models. For example, a clothes dryer in 1990 used on average 1103 kWh/year. At my current local costs, that would be about $75/year to operate. The appliance that I just bought is rated for 964 kWh/year. Not a giant difference, but still technically Energy Star, and it drops the yearly cost down to about $65/year. It’s only $10/year, but over a decade that’ll save us another $100. You see a much bigger difference when you look at a clothes washer. Again, in 1990 the average top-loading clothes washer used about 1200 kWh/year. The clothes washer we just bought is rated at 97 kWh/year. That is not a typo, that is less than 1/12 of the operating costs of a 20-year-old washer. That amounts to a whopping $76/year in annual savings, and over that 10-year span, will save us over $750, more than paying for the cost of upgrading our washer.

Water costs

The savings from the new washer we purchased continue. Because it is a front loading washer we will save a ton of water as well. Purchasing an Energy Star washer will save us 35-50% on water costs over a non-Energy Star washer. I can’t imagine the savings over a top-loading washer from the 70s. The simple fact is that the technology of washers especially has improved so much that a front-loading washer is immensely more efficient at cleaning clothes than old technology is capable of. Sure, you may be able to get a top-loading washer for cheap or free off of craigslist (I know because mine is up there for sale right now), but the operating costs of the machine just don’t make sense when you consider the long term investment.

Government rebates

Finally, don’t forget that a lot of energy providers will provide rebates for purchasing energy-efficient appliances. Check with your local companies for the details, but applying for a rebate on your energy-efficient appliances can bring $25-100 back on your energy bill if the model that you purchased qualified. Here in BC, for example, you can get $25-75 back from purchasing specific Energy Star devices. You simply print and fill out a simple form, attach some information about the device that you purchased, and you’ll get a rebate cheque back in the mail in a couple of months. Not too much work and it lowers the cost of purchasing new appliances.
So should you purchase a new set of major appliances in order to take advantage of all the potential cost savings? Maybe. If you have an old top-loading washer, yes, if you can afford to take the plunge most definitely consider upgrading that appliance as a 20-year-old washer will cost you a ton of money compared to a new and efficient one. Not only will it be easier to wash your clothes, but it’ll also be less expensive to do so. However, if you have an older dryer, fridge, or stove, you may not be able to save much by upgrading to a new model. They should look nicer, but they’re not vastly more energy efficient – at least not yet. If it is time for those appliances to go, however, consider the “second cost” of your appliance purchases and check the energy rating on all appliances that you consider buying. Paying a little more upfront could save you a lot more in the long term.
What appliance upgrades are you considering?


  1. NS Daddy

    I can’t tell if you were serious or making a joke, so I’ll say this just in case – if your lights dim when you turn on the clothes dryer, you have a serious issue with your home’s electrical system. (large appliances NEED to be on their own dedicated breakers)
    Get a safety assessment done ASAP.

    If you were just making a joke, forgive my over-reaction. I come from a family of electricians and home insurance agents. Carry on!

  2. Money Beagle

    At a certain point when it finally goes south, we’ll need a new dishwasher. It’s got a small leak that hasn’t gotten any worse so it’s OK for now, but I expect it won’t stay small forever. The issue many people have with getting the most efficient appliances is the up front cost involved. If someone can get a washer for $500 or one for $1,000, the more expensive one might use less power and water, but the $500 up front difference is difficult for some people. This can hold even more true if you look at replacing, say, all of your kitchen appliances, so that $500 difference gets multiplied across several appliances.

  3. Glenn Cooke

    I’m surprised you indicate some appliances won’t make much difference. We’ve upgraded all of our appliances through the years and it’s made a noticeable dent in our bills. Furnace and fridge/freezer probably the biggest one.

    I seem to recall that there wasn’t a huge difference between different stoves, but old vs new, there’s some difference. My wife cooks/bakes a lot (witness my girth) so I’m pretty sure we saw some difference after the upgrade.

    In short, upgrading appliances to new is likely to have a noticeable impact on your bills.

  4. krantcents

    I replaced my refrigerator a few months ago. Supposedly, my annual utility costs dropped from $350 to $54. I probably should have replaced it sooner to get some of those benefits.

  5. My Wealth Desire

    Three months ago our electric bill increase up to 40%, and we found out our refrigerator is the main contributor. I cannot explain why, when we change with new one, our bill went back to normal bill. But, I believe it is because the old appliances are not designed to save electricity or efficient.

  6. Jeremy

    Don’t put all top loading washing machines in the same category. We have a High Efficiency (HE) top loader that is very similar to the front loading Sears HE that broke down after just 2 years.

    Turns out a heavy weight on a horizontal axis is terrible for longevity. It would cost $600 to fix or same to replace with HE top loader that hopefully lasts much longer.Look into them as an alternative.

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