What is energy efficiency? If you're asking what energy efficiency means, it's likely because you're considering making some positive changes to your home. While most parts of your home, from the freezer to the windows, will have some environmental impact, making efficient choices will ensure that energy isn't wasted in your home every day. That's good for the environment, but it's also good for your wallet.
Energy efficiency means using less energy to do the same job. This can apply to cars, white goods, heaters, and even light bulbs.
Many of the investments you make in your home will last for years to come, so while energy efficient products may sometimes pose a higher up-front cost, they are designed to have a lower running cost over the course of their lifetime than non-energy efficient products. That's why so many of our best front-load washers (opens in new tab)and best side-by-side refrigerator (opens in new tab) picks are Energy Star certified.
What does energy efficient mean?
When something is energy efficient, it uses less energy than a non-energy efficient alternative to perform the same task. An example could be your refrigerator keeping your food just as cold but using less energy to do so, thanks to sustainable upgrades. This drives down the running costs, but also reduces the environmental impact that day-to-day actions and appliances can have.
Energy efficiency doesn't just apply to products though, we can all make changes in our lives to be more energy efficient. This can include turning your washing machine cycle onto a cooler wash setting to save the energy that goes into heating up the water, or simply turning off your laptop when you go on your lunch break.
Sometimes it's as simple as choosing an induction cooktop (opens in new tab) over a gas cooktop when you're shopping for a kitchen renovation, but you don't necessarily need to buy anything to make your life more energy efficient. Other simple steps you can take to improve your own efficiency is to add a lid to your water when you boil it on the cooktop, for example.
Why is energy efficiency a good thing?
Energy efficiency is one of the most important steps we can take to reduce our environmental impact. Electricity is often derived from fossil fuels, so using it unnecessarily has a direct impact on carbon emissions and energy waste.
Energy efficiency can also be a great thing for you and your family, though. While energy costs may not be sky-high, they do add up, so opting for a more energy-efficient lifestyle will mean that you see a reduction in your energy bills and also your water bills. For example, an Energy Star approved dishwasher can cost as little as $35 (opens in new tab) to run each year.
What is Energy Star?
Energy Star is the government-backed symbol for energy efficiency. If you're shopping for a new appliance and it's Energy Star certified, that means it's going to save you money and protect the environment by using less energy than non-certified alternatives.
The Energy Star symbol is designed to make it easy for consumers to make energy-efficient purchases, saving themselves energy costs in the long-run and also protecting the environment from unnecessary emissions.
By awarding products an Energy Star symbol, manufacturers are encouraged to continually innovate and make their products more sustainable to keep up with the competition. This ultimately means that the industry as a whole is forced to adapt as consumers consider the environment and the ongoing costs of appliances when they invest. That's why we always take Energy Star qualifications and running costs into account when writing our buyer's guides.
Are Energy Star appliances worth it?
The expected lifespan of most large appliances exceeds 10 years, so while Energy Star approved products can cost more up-front, they offer compelling savings in the long term. That's why we think it's worth prioritizing Energy Star rated products when buying, should you have the budget to afford the up-front cost.
From refrigerators to air conditioners, going with the Energy Star rated choice is a great way of knowing you'll be doing your bit for the planet every time you use your white goods.
According to Energy Star, approved front-load and top-load washers (opens in new tab) cut energy consumption by 25% and water consumption by 33% when compared to non-rated washers. This is due to refined temperature monitors, spraying clothes with water instead of soaking them, and faster spinning to remove excess water to reduce the demands placed on the best dryers (opens in new tab).
Many Energy Star rated products do have a higher up-front cost, but to encourage higher uptake of these products it is possible to find rebates on select products depending on your area. You can do this using the Energy Star rebate finder (opens in new tab).
The largest impact on your bills will always be felt when you choose an energy-efficient option for an appliance that's running constantly, such as a freezer. You may use an air conditioner all through the year, which is why according to Energy Star, its certified air conditioners save Americans more than $350 million each year in energy costs, as well as over six billion pounds of greenhouse gases.