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Choosing Energy-Smart Appliances
Someday your appliances will talk directly to the grid, letting your power source know that they need to draw
more amps and getting advice back on when would be the most efficient time to do it. Until then, it makes sense
to replace obsolescent appliances with the most efficient units available. Happily, Energy Star — a joint project of
the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy — annually tests appliances and reports
the results at energystar.gov. We picked out a few of the stand-out winners of those tests.
▲ C L O T H E S W A S H E R S | Front-loaders use less water than top-loaders,
and therefore have a clear advantage in efficiency when hot or warm water
is used. Energy Star doesn’t rate dryers because, it says, they all perform
pretty much the same way. Besides, the most efficient dryer is a clothes line
in the back yard.
Top performer in the Energy Star list this year is the Whirlpool
LHW0050. It handles 2. 9 cubic feet or 18 lb of laundry, setting water level
automatically. It offers a choice of 11 washing cycles, and can fit under a
standard-height countertop, stack with a matching Whirlpool dryer, or
stand alone. Prices start at about $800. Comparable performance is
available from the Samsung WF448, Emotech ECOF272, LG WM248HH,
Kenmore 4757 and Siemens WFXD5202UC.
R E F R I G E R A T O R S | If your refrigerator
was built during the 20th century, you can
save money and reduce your carbon footprint
by upgrading. Energy Star-rated refrigerators
use at least 40 percent less electricity than
refrigerators built before the current federal
standards came into force in 2001. Best bet is
to buy the smallest refrigerator that will do the
job. Most U.S. homes can manage nicely with
a 25-cubic-foot model. Note that mechanical
and electronic reliability are bigger issues with
a refrigerator: unlike washing machines, refrigerators operate 24 hours
a day, cycling on and off automatically. Failure can mean loss of a lot of
food, not to mention a major clean-up.
In this size range, top performer is the General Electric PFS22, with a
7-cubic-foot slide-out freezer compartment at the bottom and “French
doors” to access 15 cubic feet of fresh-food storage on top. This totals 22
cubic feet. At 25 cubic feet, efficient models include the Kenmore 7831
and LG LFD23860. Prices start at about $1,900.
▲ D I S H W A S H E R S | Running a full load in a dishwasher
uses less hot water, and thus less total energy, than wash-
ing the same load by hand. For maximum efficiency, use
the air-dry cycle instead of the heat-dry option.
The Asko D3531, a sleek stainless-steel built-in dishwasher, came out at the top of the Energy Star list. It
features electronic controls, and a system of high-pressure
jets to scrub the insides of pots and blast out the utensil
basket. Prices start at about $1,700. The Bosch Evolution
800 SHE98 series offers similar energy performance with
prices starting at $1,400.