Don't Buy Another Home Appliance Until You Read This

by HomeAdvisor

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Energy efficiency is a key factor to keep in mind when purchasing home appliances, but the energy efficiency of similar appliances can vary significantly. It is usually more cost-effective to purchase household appliances with high efficiency.

Determining and comparing the energy efficiency of different models is usually easy, because federal regulations require many types of home appliances to display EnergyStar labels.

A label or energy-use information in the product literature is required for furnaces, refrigerators, refrigerator-freezers, freezers, water heaters, washing machines, dishwashers, room and central air conditioners, heat pumps, and fluorescent lamp ballasts. EnergyStar labels indicate either the annual estimated cost of operating the system or a standardized energy efficiency ratio.

An often overlooked consideration in the purchase of a new home appliance is the manufacturer's warranty. The longer the warranty, the longer you won't have to face any unexpected bills. Don't be misled by commercials, all appliances break down sometime, even expensive ones.

If you have required appliance repair service in the past and found the service company reliable, find out what brands they do factory service for. If you buy one of those brands, you'll be able to deal with the same service for your new purchase. You can avoid having to deal with someone new or two different service companies, should problems arise.

Home Appliance Shopping Tips

Dishwashers: When choosing a dishwasher, you should find out how many gallons of water it uses during different cycles. Look for features that reduce water use. Newer, more expensive stainless steel models enhance efficiency during drying cycles and can tolerate higher water temperatures, even allowing you to sanitize your dishes.

Ovens: When shopping for an oven, your first decision should be whether you want a gas oven or an electric. This decision is based on your cooking preferences. An important factor to consider when buying an oven is the type of cleaning process it uses. Standard cleaning ovens require you to clean it yourself. Self-cleaning ovens often have programmable cleaning settings that use high temperatures to clean residue from the oven. Continuous cleaning ovens have special finishes that absorb or burn off splatters from the oven.

Washing Machines/Dryers: Before you go shopping, check the power service to the area where you plan to install your washer and dryer. Some homes only have electrical outlets installed for dryers look for a large, three-pronged outlet. If your service is designed for a gas dryer, look for a gas pipe sticking out from the wall. Gas dryers are less expensive to use than electric ones costing about 20 cents per load versus 35 cents per load in electric models. Washers with water level controls, large capacity settings and spin cycle adjustment will help you curb your water use. In addition, front-loading models use about one-third less energy and water than top loading machines.

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Refrigerators: As a rule of thumb, plan on purchasing 8-10 cubic feet of space for a family of two, then add an additional cubic foot of space for each family member. Refrigerators with freezers on the top are more energy efficient than models with side freezers.

Garbage disposals: When shopping for a garbage disposal, there are several things to consider in order to arrive at the best disposal to fit your needs. Think of how many meals per week are prepared in your kitchen, how often you entertain, and the importance of quiet operation and long product life. You also must know if you are hooked up to a septic system or regular water system. Some manufacturers have a guide that you can follow online.

Ventilation system (cooktop ventilation hoods): The most important thing to consider when purchasing a new ventilation hood is its fan. There are two types of fans: axial, which is rather inexpensive, and centrifugal, which is very powerful. In an axial fan, air flows parallel to the axis of rotation across the propeller and through the fan. In a centrifugal fan, the air makes a 90-degree turn after it enters the fan wheel.

Try to find hoods that have a tempered glass light lens. These are more durable than the plastic lens, which yellow and crack, and they last longer. You should also consider buying one with a low sone number. A sone measures the amount of noise created by an air-moving appliance. The lower the sone number is, the quieter your rangehood.

Hot water heaters: Look for hot water heaters that are energy efficient. The EnergyGuide™ label gives you two important pieces of information when you're comparing different brands and models: estimated energy consumption and estimated yearly operating costs. Use this information to determine which models are the most energy efficient. Energy efficient appliances can cost more, but will save money and protect the environment over time.

Tank size or capacity refers to the amount of water, in gallons, that the water heater will hold. Your tank size will be determined by your recovery rate needs. The more gallons of hot water you need per hour, the larger the water tank must be to accommodate the need. Large capacity water heaters are also more expensive to operate because they require more energy to heat the large amount of water.

Tankless water heating systems do not store heated water; instead, the water is heated instantly on demand. Tankless water systems are powered by either electricity or gas and turn off when not in use. Tankless water heaters are more energy efficient than conventional types, but have trouble supplying large amounts of hot water at any one time. Don't plan on taking a shower and running the dishwasher at the same time.

Room air conditioners: When looking for a powerful air conditioner, check out the yellow energy tag (represented as Energy Efficiency Ratio or EER) and consider its efficiency. The EER numbers range from a minimum of eight to a maximum of 12. You'll want to look for high EER numbers.

Before you go shopping for an air conditioner, ask yourself a few key questions to find the right one for you. How big is the room? Is it important that the whole room be cooled? Is there variable weather? Am I on a budget? Do I move from room to room a lot? The answers to these questions will help you find the suitable model for your needs.