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Discriminating Domestic Devices

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Discriminating Domestic Devices

A loud clunk and it's gone: the washing machine that you've relied on almost daily for the last 15 years has rinsed and spun its final load. Not worth the money to repair, a new machine is in order and you might as well get a new dryer while you're at it.

A loud clunk and it’s gone: the washing machine that you’ve relied on almost daily for the last 15 years has rinsed and spun its final load. Not worth the money to repair, a new machine is in order and you might as well get a new dryer while you’re at it.

Much has changed over the last 15 years; the market is flooded with models bearing “energy-efficient” logos. What makes an appliance worthy of energy-efficient classification? And how can you tell which one is best for your needs?

Look for the Label

EnerGuide labels are affixed to most washers, dryers, refrigerators, and ranges. All models of appliances sold in Canada are tested to determine their yearly energy usage with the resulting calculations indicated by kWh (kilowatt-hours per year) in large numbers on the EnerGuide sticker.

The lower the EnerGuide rating, the more energy efficient the appliance. The same information is indicated on a bar scale located directly below the EnerGuide rating. The scale’s numbers range from the most energy efficient (lowest number) to the least energy efficient (highest number). You want the arrow on the scale to point to the lower end when narrowing down your choices.

Anatomy of Energy Efficiency

Not only do EnerGuide-labelled appliances save you money but they also have the latest advancements in technology.

Dishwashers are built with sensors that automatically calculate the required length of washing cycles and the right water temperatures to clean each load. Some models have built-in heating elements that save on water-heating costs.

Washers conserve hot water, leaving more in your tank to use elsewhere. Newly designed motors shorten the length of spin cycles and wring more water from clothes, so less energy is needed by the dryer; and smart construction of EnerGuide-approved dryers can actually increase the life of your clothing

Kitchen ranges updated to meet EnerGuide certification improve cooking performance.

Refrigerators now have better insulation and high-efficiency compressors, not to mention better defrost mechanisms.

Heat Your Home and Save

There are energy savings to be found in the home heating market, too. A standard gas forced-air furnace wastes about 20 cents of every fuel dollar. Older furnaces can waste 35 percent energy or more.

Newer high-energy efficiency models have an Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating, which measures the percentage of fuel turned into heat. Look for a rating of 90 percent or higher. High-efficiency furnaces are more expensive than standard models, but you’ll save money in the long run and help the environment.

The key to home-energy savings lies in your hands. Purchasing a programmable thermostat allows you to heat your home when you need it. Several models on the market allow you to program your daily and weekly heating needs.

That loud clunk in your laundry room may just turn out to have been the sound of opportunity knocking.

Save Energy–Save Money

Buying your energy-efficient appliances on sale doesn’t mean the savings stop there. Here’s a quick formula to calculate how much you will save on your electric bill for the life of your appliance.

Start with the EnerGuide rating number, multiply it by the average life of the appliance in years (15 years is about average), and multiply again by your local electricity costs (dollars/kWh). The resulting figure is a rough estimate of what you might save over the life of your appliance.

Buying Guide Q&A

Q: Should I buy an appliance that doesn’t have an EnerGuide label?

A: According to Canada’s Energy Efficient Regulations, all appliances imported into or manufactured in Canada must carry an EnerGuide label, although if an appliance is manufactured and sold in the same province, a label is not necessary.

Q: How can I find out the EnerGuide rating on a second-hand appliance?

A: In general, the older the appliance, the less energy efficient it is. Chances are, if it is less than 10 years old, it has probably been EnerGuide-tested and a rating can be obtained from Natural Resources Canada’s database.

Q: What’s the difference between EnerGuide and Energy Star?

A: Energy Star is an international symbol used to identify energy-efficient equipment. Used in conjunction with EnerGuide labels, Energy Star stickers give extra insurance that products meet or exceed premium levels of energy efficiency.

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