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How to Shop for Cost-Saving Appliances

Need a new home appliance? The best buy may not necessarily be the one that costs the least. Energy efficiency should be part of your decision making process.

You are on a budget and you need a new appliance, such as a kitchen refrigerator. Is the best buy the one with the lowest price? Not necessarily.

How much an appliance costs depends on three things: purchase price, repair and maintenance expenses, and energy costs. To estimate how much you will spend over time, you have to consider all these costs. Energy efficiency is an important part of any decision.

All new home appliances must meet government energy-conservation standards. Many appliances exceed those standards and can save you even more money.

Even if two models look the same, certain features on the inside can mean a big difference in energy bills.

Look for the “EnergyGuide” label. Manufacturers must use standard tests that let you compare the annual energy use of different models. The law requires manufacturers to put those labels on the outside or inside of many types of appliances. (Labels are not required on dryers, ranges and microwaves.)

The “EnergyGuide” label can tell you:

  • capacity
  • estimated annual operating costs (for refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, clothes washers and water heaters)
  • range of estimated annual costs of similar appliances

Even a small benefit in energy efficiency can have a big payoff over the life of the appliance.

When shopping, look for the “Energy Star” logo. To earn the logo, appliances must meet efficiency standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency or the Department of Energy.

Qualified appliances that carry the “Energy Star” designation incorporate advanced technologies that use 10%-50% less energy and water than standard models. Look for energy-efficient clothes washers, refrigerators, dishwashers, room air conditioners and dehumidifiers that have earned the “Energy Star” label.

For more information, visit the Department of Energy’s website at


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