You’ve had your fridge forever. With the exception of some eroded parts of the seal, it’s in pretty good shape and keeps your food cold. Why worry about budgeting for an upgrade?

For starters, inefficient appliances can have a huge impact on your home’s monthly electric bill. Replacing a refrigerator made before 1993 with a new, ENERGY STAR-rated model could knock $65 to $100 off your power costs each year. When evaluating older appliances, one key question emerges: Which is the biggest user? To estimate the energy consumption of an appliance, use this general formula provided by the U.S. Department of Energy’s EnergySavers.gov:

(Wattage × Hours used per day × Days used per year) ÷ 1,000 =

Annual kilowatt-hour (kWh) used

Remember: 1,000 watts  = 1 kilowatt (kW).

Then calculate the annual cost to use an appliance by multiplying the kWh per year by $0.0904 rate per kWh used.

For example, a PC and monitor:

[(120 Watts + 150 Watts) × 4 hours per day × 365 days per year] ÷ 1000

= 394 kWh × $0.0904 cents/kWh

= $35.62/year

You can usually find the wattage of most appliances stamped on the bottom or back of the appliance or on its nameplate. The wattage listed shows the maximum power drawn by the appliance. Because some appliances have a range of settings—just like the volume on a radio—the actual amount of power consumed depends on the setting used at any one time.

Keep in mind that as electronics and appliances become more technologically savvy, they often draw power even while turned off. A good indicator of this—called “phantom load”—is to check the device for a light that stays on all the time.

Phantom load will add a few watt-hours to energy consumption, but a few watt-hours on each of your many electronic devices adds up. To avoid this silent power draw, unplug the device or invest in a “smart” power strip, which allows certain electronics—like a cable box, which takes time to reboot after it’s been unplugged—to continue using electricity while others can be completely shut down.

Here are examples of the range of wattages for common household appliances:

  • Clothes Washer    350­–500 Watts
  • Clothes Dryer    1800–5000 Watts
  • Dishwasher    1200–2400 Watts
  • Hair Dryer    1200–1875 Watts
  • Microwave Oven    750–1100 Watts
  • Refrigerator (frost-free, 16ft2)    725 Watts

Once you calculate how much money you spend to run aging home appliances, compare this to what it would cost to use more efficient models. There are other benefits, too. For example, not only have clothes washers become 64 percent more energy efficient since 2000, but the tub size has increased by 9 percent. With a new model you can wash more clothes for less money every month.

For a tool that will do all of these calculations for you, and a look at our rebate programs available, visit our website at www.accessenergycoop.com.

Source:  U.S. Department of Energy, Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, ENERGY STAR

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