Dryers Become the Next Energy Star

energystarsappliancesThe Environmental  Protection Agency announced this spring the first-ever Energy Star dryer label.

I know what you’re thinking:

“Wait, you mean there wasn’t an Energy Star label for dryers before?”

I know, right? However, the popular thinking was that dryers couldn’t vary much among each other in energy use therefore, there was no reason to call them out.

But about three years ago, the EPA began to take steps to expand the program and reported on ways that clothes dryer efficiency could be improved.

Energy Star Dryers

The new label will recognize highly efficient gas and electric dryers that use about 20% less energy than required by 2015 federal standards.

Over 80% of U.S. homes have a clothes dryer, and these appliances account for approximately 6 percent of residential electricity consumption.

So far, one brand has already jumped on the new category. Whirlpool announced an Energy Star rated Duet steam dryer.

Whirlpool brand Duet® model WED87HED steam dryer

Whirlpool brand Duet® model WED87HED steam dryer

Many of today’s dryers already use temperature or moisture sensors to shut off the dryer once clothes are dry and cease using energy past its usefulness. Dryer models that meet the new Energy Star requirements are likely to improve upon these “auto termination cycles.”

From Energy Star:

Among the more efficient gas and electric dryers that will earn the Energy Star, consumers should expect to encounter a promising new technology. Heat pump dryers recapture the hot air used by the dryer and pump it back into the drum to dry more clothes. By re-using most of the heat, it creates a heat pump dryer that is more efficient and avoids the need for ducts leading heat out of the laundry room.

Appliance Energy Savings on a Stick

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Come

Warner Stellian enjoys a storied history with the State Fairgrounds. And for the last few years, our appliances have made a comeback appearance at the Minnesota State Fair.

The Eco Experience, located in the Progress Center on Randall Avenue, brings together organizations, ideas, and hands-on activities to show what the fair-goers what they can do at home to help the environment.

(By the way…while you’re saving the environment…By replacing your refrigerator, washer, dishwasher and freezer from the 1980s to new Energy Star appliances you can save an average $350 a year in energy costs. Save away!)

Warners’ Stellian is partnering with the Fair again this year to demonstrate the options for choosing energy efficient applicances. Our display consists of a vignette of a kitchen (with island cabinet) and ENERGY STAR refrigeratordishwasher, and other appliances with an adjacent laundry room demonstrating a HE washer and dryer.

ENERGY STAR qualified appliances incorporate advanced technologies that use up to 50% less energy and water than older models. If you’re already in the market for new appliances, choosing ENERGY STAR appliances over standard appliances will cost you an average $80 less annually in water and energy (even if they cost a few more smackeroos upfront).

Also included is an ENERGY STAR freezer, air conditioner and dehumidifier.

You’ll find tips on how to decrease the energy you use on the appliances you already own.

If you like PowerPoint, awkward blondes and saving energy, come see me at the Eco Experience Sustainability Stage this Sunday, Aug. 26 at 2:30 p.m. I’ll be showing you how to save money and energy both when you purchase new appliances  and when you use what you’ve already got at home.

When To Break Up With Your Refrigerator

The average refrigerator lasts about 12 years, but what if yours is still humming along?

A week ago, we got an email from the sweetest lady EVER (don’t even try to debate it). It began:

My husband purchased a General Electric refrigerator on May 20, 1949, 6 days after our brand new daughter, Mary, was born.  One of the features I liked about it was a “butter conditioner”.

This Model MF8F General Electric refrigerator is still running.  But there is the possibility, it could seize to function one day.

The ‘butter conditioner’ in the door is intended to keep butter at the temperature I desire.

Thus far, I don’t know where to look for a refrigerator with this feature.  I’m almost sure you can help me.

Clearly, this woman — bless her heart — should’ve replaced her refrigerator decades ago. That wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing butter conditioner, though source of such creamy deliciousness, really is just a black hole of energy.

That thing probably runs on $300-$400 worth of electricity per year, versus $50 or so of a new Energy Star refrigerator.

I’m not hating on this woman (on the contrary; I want to adopt her), as it’s hard to tell when to just break up with a “perfectly good” refrigerator.

The New York Times mused on the topic in 2008, and decided that 15-years-old is a pretty safe retirement age for your refrigerator.

What if you inherited appliances from the previous owner? If you’re like me and your home was sold to you with so-called updated appliances, you can use Energy Star’s Refrigerator Retirement Savings Calculator, a handy tool that lets you input the model number of your current fridge to see how much more you’re spending on energy use annually versus a new, Energy Star refrigerator.

Energy Saving Tips for Appliances

The biggest step toward making your house energy efficient is choosing Energy Star appliances. Energy Star appliances offer 10-50% energy savings compared to standard, new appliances.

Aside from buying energy efficient appliances, try these energy saving tips.

Ditch the Rinse

Stop rinsing your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher, which wastes up to 20 gallons of water. Energy Star dishwashers use only 4 gallons of water per load on average.

Turn Down the Heat

Water heating consumes about 90% of the energy it takes to operate a clothes washer. Switching your temperature setting from hot to warm can cut energy use in half. Using the cold cycle reduces energy use even more.

Use Your Senses

Use the moisture sensor option on your dryer, which automatically shuts off the machine when clothes are dry, saving energy and reducing wear and tear on your clothes caused by over-drying.

Right Size

Choose the right-sized pot on stove burners. Keep the pot covered to cook more efficiently and keep your kitchen cooler.

Rearrange the Kitchen

Move your refrigerator away from the stove, dishwasher or heat vents. Make sure the door seals are airtight. Also, keep your refrigerator and freezer stocked to hold temperature better and operate more efficiently.

Cook Smarter

Microwaves only use about half as much electricity as regular ovens, so using them is already a smart alternative. But you can save even more energy if you defrost food in the refrigerator instead of the microwave.

What are your best energy saving tips? Share them in the comments!

How Long Does a Dishwasher Last?

On average, a modern dishwasher lasts 6 to 10 years. When deciding whether to repair or replace your dishwasher, consider its age, original cost and cost to repair. If the repair equals or exceeds half the cost of the dishwasher, consider replacement. Here are some more dishwasher statistics.

215

The number of cycles washed annually by the average dishwasher, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. That’s a little over four cycles per week.

4

How many gallons of water an Energy Star dishwasher uses per cycle.That’s 860 gallons annually.

6

How many gallons of water a standard dishwasher uses per cycle. That’s 1,290 gallons annually.

20

Up to this many gallons of water are wasted by well-meaning homeowners still stuck on pre-rinsing their dishes. Repeat after me: scrape, don’t rinse!

$550

Average price of an Energy Star dishwasher, according to national retail data from 2009.

$538

Average price of a standard dishwasher in 2009.

1.5

Amount of years it takes for the lower operations costs (assuming gas water heating) of an Energy Star dishwasher to make up, or “pay back,” for the initial sticker price difference.

10%/$54

Overall savings of an Energy Star dishwasher over its expected lifetime (assuming electric water heating).