If you need an upgrade, do it smart
It’s that time of year again when we expect lots of visits from family and friends as we approach the holiday season.
This is typically a time when we like to update our furniture and appliances because, you know, we want to impress that aunt or uncle we don’t especially like. If you’re on the hunt for that new appliance, I thought I would share some purchasing tips so you don’t hurt yourself in the process.
In looking at washing machines, those that earn the ENERGY STAR rating are predicted to use 50 percent less water and 30 percent less energy than other models. These are typically seen in high efficient front or top loading models that no longer have central agitators.
Rinsing is now achieved using a high pressure spray which eliminates the need to fill and drain the tub.
Additionally, high speed spin options reduce drying time and as a result energy use. Just in case you are wondering, ENERGY STAR does not label clothes dryers as it has found very little difference in energy use amongst different models, so you would have to achieve your energy reductions in the washing process.
You may want to ensure your refrigerator is qualified, as these models are expected to be 20 percent more energy efficient than other models. Improve performance by leaving space at the back of the appliance to allow it to breathe, keep it away from heat producers like stoves and use energy saving or economy settings.
For those buying dishwashers, a 10 percent energy saving is predicted as these more efficient models have increased water pressure to reduce the need for pre-rinsing.
Some even have soil sensors to predict the wash cycle needed and have internal water heaters that reduce water heating costs.
Window or wall unit air-conditioning units that have achieved this rating are also expected to use 10 percent less energy than comparable models. You may wish to look at models that are equipped with timers to automatically shut units off when not needed.
Ceiling fans equipped with lights which have achieved this rating are 50 percent more efficient than other models and the light kits are expected to produce 75 percent less heat. These fans should be hung at least eight feet from the floor and of course only used when the room is occupied as contrary to popular belief fans do not cool a room.
They work by making persons in the room feel cooler. A qualified fan would work with compact fluorescent bulbs that last at least 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs.
Whether you are looking for a plasma, LCD, HD ready TV or a standard model television all types have been compared and you can find a qualified model. It is worth the effort because rated models are on average 40 percent more efficient than other models. This is typically an appliance that spends a significant amount of time in standby mode so you want to check the consumption in this mode which should be no more than one Watt.
At the moment there is no rating for ovens, ranges or microwave ovens.
I know you may want to purchase items just because they are on sale, but do your homework before shopping to avoid the impulse buy.
By making the effort to compare the predicted consumption of appliances at full power and standby you can save yourself a lot of money in the long run as the product with the lower sticker price may be more costly over the product lifetime.
Challenge for this week: Be an informed consumer and research before you shop for appliances. Take energy savings into account.
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Sonia Brown is Principal of Graphite Engineering Ltd and is a registered Professional Engineer