Making Your Home Energy Efficient Adds Up To Big Savings
By Michael Clem
Government statistics report that conserving energy costs in the home can save a household several hundred, even several thousand, dollars per year on their utility bills. Replacing your older appliances and elements of your home’s structure, such as older windows and doors, with more energy-efficient alternatives, such as products that meet ENERGY STAR guidelines, is an important step to maximizing the amount of money you can save.
ENERGY STAR is a government program that identifies products – including appliances, home electronics, and home improvement products – that meet energy efficiency guidelines that exceed the minimum federal standards, as determined by the U.S. Department of Energy. You can identify a product that meets the organization’s guidelines by looking for the signature blue ENERGY STAR logo.
The ENERGY STAR program began as a voluntary labeling tool to "identify and promote energy-efficient products to reduce greenhouse gas emissions." It started with the labeling of computers and monitors and more than a decade later, has expanded to identify all types of products used in homes and offices that conserve energy. The result: Consumers and businesses have saved billions of dollars since the program began – $12 billion in 2005 alone.
Energy-efficient appliances – such as refrigerators and freezers, clothing washers, dishwashers, dehumidifiers and window air conditioning units – can cut consumer utility bills in half when compared with standard models. And home improvement products with an ENERGY STAR rating – such as vinyl replacement windows, doors, skylights and siding – help to better maintain your home’s temperature control, cutting heating and cooling costs anywhere from $20 to $400 per year.
If you’ve been searching for a product in any one of the more than 40 categories rated by ENERGY STAR, you may have come across the organization’s blue logo. That seal of approval indicates that the item can perform as well as, or better than, comparable products, but save you more money than if you purchased a less energy-efficient option.
A refrigerator meeting ENERGY STAR’s energy conservation guidelines today: Uses 40% less energy than models sold in 2001, saves its owner 15% in energy costs when compared with other models (freezers save 10%) and compact models, with volumes less than 7.75 square feet, save 20%. A washing machine that meets ENERGY STAR guidelines: Saves its owner up to $110 per year, requires 50% less energy than standard washing machines, uses up to 50% less water and has more efficient spinning cycles to reduce drying time.
Energy-efficient appliances provide an obvious cost savings for a household’s energy expenses. And other products that meet ENERGY STAR standards, such as vinyl replacement windows, doors, skylights and siding, make a significant contribution to keeping those costs down as well. Replacing your existing windows and siding with newer, better designed vinyl replacement windows and insulated siding can quadruple the insulation value of your home and save an average of 30% on your utility bills.
In addition to saving money, vinyl replacement windows with this rating create a more comfortable living environment by eliminating drafts, blocking heat, Offering protection from sun damage and reducing interior condensation on windows. In the winter, energy-efficient vinyl replacement windows keep the interior glass warmer for better temperature control. And the warmer the window, the less interior condensation that, over time, can damage your window sill and paint job, and encourage mold growth.
In the summer, these windows also block 45 to 70% of the sun’s heat and provide "sunscreen" to your home by blocking ultraviolet light that can reduce fading up to 75% without compromising visible light.
Whether you are looking to add to the beauty of your home and lower your energy bills by installing vinyl replacement windows, or you want to make a smart decision when choosing your next dishwasher or window air conditioning unit, products that meet ENERGY STAR guidelines offer an economical alternative that leaves more money in your pocket.