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What is an Energy Star rating on Appliances?
Shopping for major appliances can be nerve-wracking, particularly when you consider that most household appliances, from refrigerators to dishwashers and garbage disposals, should keep humming for the next 10 to 20 years. In 1992, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took one part of the worry away. Thats when the governmental group launched Energy Star, a program that singles out appliances that use fewer environmental resources and cost you less to operate. Today, you can spot an Energy Star label on more than just appliances. Office products, building materials, lighting and electronics all carry the logo.
Energy Savings Energy Star appliances are about 20% more energy efficient than ones without the rating. That makes a difference. According to the EPA, in 2009, Energy Star alliances helped Americans save nearly $17 billion on their utility bills. Whats more, using less electricity, which comes from processing coal and natural gasand contributes to greenhouse gases, prevented a significant amount of those environmental hazards from entering the atmospherethe equivalent of taking 30 million cars off the road. Energy Star labels arent difficult to read. Most have a rating that shows how many kilowatt-hours (kWhs) per year the appliance is expected to use. When shopping for a new appliance, look for the lowest number, which means fewer kWhs and more energy efficiency. As a bonus, some Energy Star appliances, such as hot water heaters and heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, qualify for a federal tax credit, which puts even more money in your pocket.
How a product earns an Energy Star label Keep in mind, that Energy Star labels assess energy efficiency, not every aspect of performance. An ice maker on a non-Energy Star refrigerator, for example, could work better than one with the government seal. But what you can be assured from an Energy Star appliance is that it has met or exceeded some strict standards of efficiency set up by the EPA and the U.S. Department of Energy.
At the bare minimum, an Energy Star appliance must provide significant energy savings and be as high-performing as other appliances of its kind. If the Energy Star appliance has a higher sticker price than unlabeled models, it has to prove that you will recoup your investment through savings on your utility bill. And all Energy Star appliances have to prove, via testing, that they actually are energy efficient.
In addition, every type of appliance has individual benchmarks it must meet. For instance, Energy Star dishwashers can use no more than 5.8 gallons of water per cycle, while refrigerators must be 15% more energy efficient than federal standards. One appliance you wont see an Energy Star label on is clothes dryers. Currently, all dryers in the U.S. use just about the same amount of energy so theres no need to compare models.
In these days of high energy costs many people recognize the importance of improving the energy efficiency of their homes, especially since heating and cooling can account for up to half of a homes total energy usage. While energy efficient replacement windows will save money on heating and cooling bills, they also have many other benefits such as adding beauty and value to your home, and making your living space more pleasant!
There are many obvious reasons to replace old windows that are rough and worn. Creating a new look for your home from the inside out is possible simply by replacing old windows with new ones. With the many styles of windows that you can choose from, and the variety of colors available, replacing your windows could be the home improvement step that dramatically changes the way your home looks and feels. Whether your new windows let in more light, blend into the background, stand out with a bold exterior contrast of color, or serve as a focal point within your rooms, a new window can defiantly bring excitement into your home.
Besides the pleasing esthetic benefits of replacing your windows, there are many more practical reasons to replace them as well. Over time wood windows may begin to rot and can also warp or become infested with termites. Casement windows may have cranks that stop working or counter weight cords that have broken. Paint or even vinyl on windows can peel with age. Correcting these types of problems is important for the upkeep of your home. With todays more advanced window technology window manufacturers have figured out new ways to make sure that your windows will not only be energy efficient but also incredibly durable. Recent improvements include coatings that may help reduce heat transfer in your home and protect interiors from potentially damaging sunlight that can fade pictures, furniture and carpets.
A not-to-be-overlooked factor that makes replacement windows both important and eminently sensible, is the amount of energy that can be saved when replacing old, drafty or single pane windows with new highly energy efficient multi-pane windows. High efficiency replacement windows will help make your home more energy efficient, and a highly efficient home uses less power for both heating and cooling, which in turn helps you save money. Simply switching single-pane windows to double-pane windows will help decrease high energy bills in the cold winter months by blocking out more of the cold winter air and keeping in more of the warm air heated by your furnace. Likewise the same is true of the cool air generated by your air conditioning unit during the hot summer months.
When determining what replacement windows to use it is wise to follow the recommendations of the Energy Star national energy performance rating system. Replacement windows with an Energy Star label meet strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the EPA and US Department of Energy.
ENERGY STAR is a government program under the management of the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy designed to help everyone save money and protect the environment by identifying and utilizing energy efficient products and practices. The use of Energy Star approved windows and other household products can save about a third on the average home energy bill without sacrificing style, features or comfort.