To make your building more energy efficient, you can purchase products with the ENERGY STAR® label. They use less energy, save money, and help protect the environment. For more information about ENERGY STAR® products, go to the ENERGY STAR® Qualified Product Listing.
- The higher the Modified Energy Factor (MEF), the more efficient the washer.
- The lower the water factor (WF), the less water used by the machine.
- In addition to saving energy by reducing water use, washers that spin clothes faster than conventional machines leave less moisture in the clothes and reduce the time and energy needed in the clothes dryer. These dryer savings are incorporated in the MEF rating.
- Generally, horizontal-axis (frontloading) machines are more energy-efficient than vertical-axis (top loading) washers.
Refrigerators / Freezers
- A typical new refrigerator with a top-mounted freezer and automatic defrost uses less than 500 kWh per year, whereas a typical model sold in 1973 used over 1,800 kWh per year.
- Full-size refrigerators that exceed the federal standard by 15% or more (and full-size freezers that exceed it by 10%) qualify for the ENERGY STAR® label.
- Compact refrigerators and freezers must exceed the standard by 20% to qualify for ENERGY STAR®.
- When purchasing a new refrigerator, get rid of your existing refrigerator rather than moving it to the basement or garage so you can reap all the savings from your new high-efficiency refrigerator.
- Most of the energy used by dishwashers and clothes washers is actually the energy required for heating the water they consume. An efficient dishwasher uses less water to do the job.
- You can reduce the temperature of your water heater to 120° for additional energy savings.
- Many of the newer models use significantly less water—as much as one-half less—than hand washing.
- Many of the dishwashers on the market today incorporate soil-sensors to adjust water use depending on how dirty the dishes are in each load washed.
- Studies demonstrate that most new dishwashers do a great job cleaning even the dirtiest dishes without pre-rinsing, so skip pre-rinsing to save money, precious water, energy, and time.
- Water heater efficiency is reported in terms of the energy factor (EF). The higher the EF, the more efficient the water heater.
- The ability of a water heater to meet peak hot water demand is indicated by its “first hour” rating. This rating accounts for the effects of tank size and the speed by which cold water is heated.
- If you rely on electricity to heat your water, consider heat-pump water heaters. This technology uses one-third to one-half as much electricity as a conventional electric-resistance water heater.
- Demand (or instantaneous) water heaters eliminate the storage tank by heating water directly when there is a call for hot water. The energy consumption of these units may be lower. Look for a model with electronic ignition to save the energy consumed by a continuously burning pilot light.
- Gas-fired combination water heater/space heater units are rated by their combined annual efficiency (CAE), a measure of both water and space heating efficiency. The higher the CAE, the more efficient the unit.
Central Air Conditioners
- Central air conditioners (CACs) are rated according to their seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER). This is the cooling output divided by the power input for a hypothetical average U.S. climate. The higher the SEER, the more efficient the air conditioner.
- For Best Possible Performance, Follow These Steps:
- When buying a new air conditioner, get educated on what exactly you need before going shopping.
- When purchasing a new system, check with your contractor or visit the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute to see the specific SEER value for the combination you are considering.
- For the most efficient system, purchase a CAC with a SEER of at least 14.5.
- Ask the contractor to perform a complete load calculation to make sure you get a properly sized unit. An oversized CAC will give less comfort because it will not control humidity well.
- Buy a matched system of condenser, indoor unit, and even the thermostat. In general, older indoor coils are too small to deliver efficiency.
- For efficiency when it is needed most (on the hottest days), be sure that the unit has a TXV (thermal expansion valve) and an energy efficiency ratio (EER) of 11.6 or greater.
- A variable speed air handler will improve comfort and efficiency and allow continuous air filtering at minimum energy cost.
- Have your contractor check that all ducts (outside of the building envelope) are sealed and insulated with supply and return systems balanced.
Room Air Conditioners
- Room air conditioners are rated by their energy efficiency ratio (EER) – the cooling output divided by the power consumption. The higher the EER, the more efficient the air conditioner.
Gas and Oil Furnaces
- The efficiency of new furnaces is given as the annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE), a measure of overall performance.
- Most new gas furnaces tend to be grouped in one of two general classes of efficiency: power combustion at 80-82% AFUE and “condensing” furnaces that are at least 90% efficient. Condensing furnaces are more economical in cold regions. Furthermore, condensing furnaces are much less likely to suffer from corrosion caused by condensation in the unit or its flue and chimney.
- When buying a new furnace, make sure its heating capacity is appropriate for your home. Oversized furnaces operate less efficiently because they cycle on and off more frequently; plus, larger furnaces are more expensive to buy.
- If the insulation and/or windows in your home have been upgraded since the old heating equipment was installed, you can probably use a much less powerful furnace.
- Two-speed or modulating furnaces tend to work better and are less sensitive to over sizing.
- Insist that your contractor do a heat-loss analysis of your home to size your new heating equipment properly, whether fixed-capacity or modulating.
- A furnace can use a significant amount of electricity to power its motors and fans to move air through your house. The actual amount of electricity used in your home will vary with your local weather and home characteristics.
- Warmer climates need models equipped with larger fans (for use with central air conditioning during the cooling season) and use more electricity. For warmer climate installations, select a cooling system with a high SEER (at least 14.5) and EER (at least 11.6), and to specify a variable speed blower motor. Additional information on specific models can be found on the Gas Appliance Manufacturers Association Web site.
Conventional (air-source) Heat Pumps
- Central heat pumps provide both cooling in the summer and heating in the winter. Generally, heat pumps do not perform well over extended periods of sub-freezing temperatures. The cooling performance of heat pumps, like that of central air conditioners, is rated as a SEER.
- Heating performance is measured by the heating season performance factor (HSPF), a ratio of the estimated seasonal heating output divided by the seasonal power consumption for an average U.S. climate.
- In 2006, the national efficiency standard for new heat pumps requires a minimum HSPF of 7.7 and a minimum SEER of 13.
- In warmer climates, SEER is more important than HSPF; in colder climates, focus on getting the highest HSPF feasible. In addition to this list, you can find guidance on high-performance products atwww.energystar.gov and www.cee1.org. For the most efficient equipment, purchase a heat pump with a SEER of at least 14.5 and HSPF in the range of 9.0.
- When purchasing a new system, check with your contractor or visit the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute to see the specific SEER and HSPF values for the combination you are considering.
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