When shopping for a new home appliance, the product with the lowest price tag is not always the best buy. In fact, the purchase price is only part of the total cost. To find out how much an appliance really costs, you must consider how much it will cost to operate the appliance over its lifetime, including energy use and maintenance.
The operating cost is often the largest out-of-pocket expense for a home appliance. Energy-efficient appliances cost less to operate, which can mean significant savings over the life of the appliance. Use the yellow EnergyGuide
label (pictured right) to compare the estimated energy use and operating costs of different models. EnergyGuide is a program of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Making the Right Choice
The tips that follow will help you select the most energy-efficient and cost-effective appliances available:
- Choose the right size. Before you bring a new appliance home, make sure you have enough space. For example, is there enough room to open the lid on a new washing machine? Shopping by size or capacity will help you narrow your search.
- Know where to shop. Appliance outlets, electronics stores, and local retailers carry different brands and models. Dealers also sell appliances through print catalogs and online.
- Compare brands and models. Decide which features are most important, and compare products using the literature provided by the manufacturers. Look for safety features, repair history, energy efficiency, and so on.
- Look for ENERGY STAR models. ENERGY STAR rated appliances incorporate advanced technologies and are 10% to 50% more energy efficient than standard models. ENERGY STAR is a joint program of the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
- Ask about incentives. Cash rebates, low-interest loans, and incentive programs help to reduce the purchase price of energy-efficient appliances.
Home appliances are a big investment. With a little extra effort, you can find a high-performance product that fits your needs while saving you money.