Thursday, May 7, 2009

When To Replace Appliances

Fortunately, many of the energy-sapping products manufactured for our households are getting to be more energy efficient, but when is the right time to replace them? Does it make sense to send a refrigerator to a landfill when it's keeping the milk chilled just fine? Here are some guidelines provided by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (AEEE) for when it makes economic sense to replace an appliance.

1) Lightbulbs - The answer here is simple - REPLACE THEM NOW! Even if you spend $4 to buy a new CFL bulb and use it only 2 hours a day, you will save an estimated 21 cents in the first year. If it is a high-use light - let's say it's on 8 hrs/day - you save $30 in the first two years on that single lightbulb!

There has been some recent concern about mercury in the CFLs. Here is what the ACEEE says: "CFLs save 2-10 times more mercury from the environment than they contain by avoiding pollution from coal-fired power plants. The amount in each bulb is not significant enough to pose a health risk in your home, but they should be disposed of properly, like batteries, to minimize their impact on landfills."

2) Refrigerator - New refrigerators use half the energy of those created in the 1990s. The ACEEE recommendation is to replace when it needs repairs or when it is more than 15 years old.

3) Dryer - If your dryer works well, keep it. Just make sure to maintain it.

4) Washing machine - The new high efficiency models use much less water which means less water that gets heated for hot water cycles. They also spin better so the clothes take less time to dry. The ACEEE recommends replacing a washing machine more than 10 years old.

5) Heating/Cooling Systems - Similar to dryers, these should just be replaced when they are old or worn out.

If it is time to replace something in your house, make sure you recycle the old applicance (there are often free programs offered by your power company) and replace it with an energy-efficient one. You can research all the options on the Energy Star website. Also, learn enough about the new appliance to take advantage of the energy saving features.

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