While utility bills are often perceived as fixed monthly costs, there is a variety of resources that can be used during the shopping process for appliances as well as after they are installed that can reduced energy consumption. Two resources that can lead to the purchase of energy efficient appliances are:
* EnergyGuide labels – EnergyGuide labels are affixed to a variety of appliances and are purposed toward defining the relative energy usage between similar products. Products that carry EnergyGuide information include refrigerators, air conditioners, dishwashers, and washing machines. Clothes dryers and ranges are not tagged with EnergyGuide labels due to the fact that there is little difference in energy consumption between similar products within these categories. The value of EnergyGuide labels is that they enable consumers to make easy comparisons in terms of relative energy consumption and the estimated yearly cost of operation between appliances of similar sizes and capabilities. This information can then play a key role in the decision making process by defining the true cost of appliances under consideration through the addition of the total estimated cost of operation over the life of each product to the purchase price. In many cases, the accumulated savings over the life of a refrigerator, for example, can result in thousands of dollars in savings versus a model with the same purchase price.
* ENERGY STAR labels – ENERGY STAR appliances exceed federal standards for energy efficiency by at least 20 percent and represent the products with the lowest energy consumption in each category. Certified appliances carry a blue and white label, which can also be found on the EnergyGuide tags. These appliances are usually more expensive than non-rated products at the point of purchase, but their lower use of energy results in savings that are much greater than price differences when compared to less efficient products. In addition to savings resulting from energy efficient engineering, buyers of ENERGY STAR products can be rewarded with rebates from local utilities or government agencies.
* Time of use billing – Smart meter technology now allows electric utilities to set prices for kilowatts based on the time of day during which they are consumed. These periods of the day are referred to as “Peak”, “Mid-Peak,” and “Off-Peak”, with the highest kilowatt charges occurring during Peak periods and the lowest charges in Off-Peak hours. By obtaining a schedule of when these billing periods occur during the course of each day, consumers can shift their appliance use from the more expensive Peak and Mid-Peak hours to Off-Peak periods which can save up to 50 percent on the cost per kilowatt.
These resources can help to reduce your utility bills substantially. By using information from EnergyGuide and ENERGY STAR labels during the purchasing process and time of use data after installation, you can buy energy efficient appliances and then run them when kilowatts are at their lowest prices.