If your heart starts to pound with dread every time the electricity bill comes for your home and/or office, it might be time to start considering replacing older appliances and items that run on electricity in favour of Energy Star products.
What Are Energy Star Products?
Energy Star products are appliances and equipment such as computers, printers, light bulbs and more that have been inspected by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and meet their stringent energy efficiency requirements. You will usually see a bright yellow label on them in the store, and a breakdown on the card of how much money you can save each year on your electricity bill by opting for one of their approved appliances.
Upfront Cost versus Long-Term Savings
It is important to note that these appliances will usually cost more than a regular model. Having said that, the running costs will be cheaper, saving you money in the long run. If your appliance is more than seven years old, even if it was an Energy Star appliance, chances are that making the switch will help use less electricity every month and lower your bills. In turn, you are helping the environment by lowering your carbon footprint.
When to Buy an Energy Star Appliance
Buy one if it is an "always on" appliance like a refrigerator, freezer, computer, printer, and/or TV. Your washer, dryer and dishwasher might also be a good option.
TVs still consume power even when turned off, unless you plug all your entertainment centre cords into a power strip and turn the strip off before going to bed at night. The same is true of your computer equipment.
Modern Energy Star fridges are around 15% more efficient, leading to significant savings.
Little Things Can Add Up
It may not sound like much, but qualified light bulbs (CFLs) use two-thirds less energy than standard bulbs, and must meet additional operating and reliability guidelines. They last 15 times longer, also meaning less waste. They generate less heat, leading to lower cooling costs in the warm weather.
Heating and Cooling
If you live in a seasonal climate, you need to stay warm in winter and cool in summer. Qualified furnaces are around 15% more efficient than regular ones. Be sure to put them on a thermostat and timer.
Air conditioners can be costly to start with, but read the label carefully to see how much you will save. It may also be worth it to get a more expensive unit with the right BTUs to cool your room correctly, than to go for a cheaper unit but then get hit with high per-unit costs on electricity every summer. Also look for ones with an energy saver button that will turn off the unit when it has cooled the room to a certain temperature.
Home Office and Office Equipment
Computers and printers are a catch-22 when it comes to electricity. On the one hand, they have to be kept in a cool environment, and on the other, they generate heat and people tend to leave them on all the time. Even if you power down, they still use electricity unless you plug them into a power strip and turn off the strip at the end of each working day.
Look for Energy Star rated models of desktop computers, printers and so on. Buy printers that have more than one function, such as a scanner and fax machine as well.