Buying new appliances can be a pretty overwhelming task, even if you’re just buying a replacement for one that’s finally konked out. And if you’re buying a suite of new appliances as part of an overall kitchen/laundry room renovation, they will represent a significant expense. While there are so many options and levels of quality available that you could do your research for days or weeks before you really know what you want. Consider on top of the myriad of  features available, that you also want to buy the most energy and water-efficient appliances you can afford.

Clara Puskas, Green Kitchen Designer and Chair of the Green Committee for the National Kitchen and Bath Association Ontario Chapter, points out that you have to remember that there are two costs associated with any appliance: its upfront cost (purchase and shipping) and its running and maintenance cost. When you buy a cheap appliance, that is, one that’s cheaply made and not energy efficient, it will have a shorter lifespan, cost more to run, and won’t perform as well as its mid-level and top-level brands and you will end up having to replace the replacement sooner.

So, what are the elements and points to consider when purchasing a new appliance? For Clara, some of the main factors to consider are as much design-related as energy related.

  • Keep refrigerators out of direct sunlight and away from heat generating appliances such as stoves and dishwashers. Excess heat added makes refrigerator motors work harder and use more electricity.
  • In small households in particular, consider getting a two-drawer dishwasher instead of one large dishwasher. No t only is it more efficient, because small loads can be cleaned, but also, in small households, one drawer can store clean dishes and one drawer can store dirty ones, saving cupboard space.
  • Make sure appliances are installed properly to maximize energy efficiency and functionality.
  • When searching for new appliances, consider the two price tags: the purchase price and running and maintenance costs. Appliances have Energuide ratings and average costs per year right on their tags and will have the comparison with the average comsumption for the category.
  • Look at your preferred appliances’ energy efficiency ratings and buy the one with the best rating. (The Office of Energy Efficiency has a webpage that explains how to read an Energuide label. )

When looking for new appliances consider that an Energy Star qualified one has to have the minimum rating — but many more than exceed it:

Dishwashers: Must consume no more than 492kWh/year. (A standard dishwasher consumes 592 kWh/year.)

Refrigerators: Must consume no more than 540 kWh/year. (A standard refrigerator consumes 540 kWh/year.)

Clothes Washers: Must consume no more than 299 kWh/year (front or top loading). (A standard washer consumes 799 kWh/year.)

Clothes Dryers: Must consume no more than 896 kWh/year. (A standard dryer consumes 916 kWh/year.)

Note: Energy Star certification is not available for ranges or freezer chests. Average annual consumption for these items are:

Freezer chests: 368 kWh/year

Ranges: Self-cleaning: 735 kWh/year, Non self-cleaning: 784 kWh/year. I wonder why the non self-cleaning oven uses more electricity than the self-cleaning? Any ideas?

For more information on Energy Star qualified products, visit the Office of Energy Efficiency’s website.

Although these are the Energy Star qualifications, there are vast differences in appliances’ energy consumption depending on the model and the manufacturer. For superior energy efficiency, European appliances have been sipping energy for years. Three of the reasons, I believe, they’ve been slow to catch on in the North American market are: they have been smaller and significantly more expensive, and the availability of qualified repairmen in the event that they break down. While European appliances are now being made for North American kitchens, there is still a price premium.  If you’re interested in purchasing European appliances, check out Euro-Line Appliances in Oakville, ON or Integrated Appliances in Rexdale. The companies deal exclusively in European appliances and also have the repair service in case an appliance needs attention.

Clara Puskas is the owner of XL Kitchen Design Studio, as well as Chair of the Green Committee for the National Kitchen and Bath Association, Ontario Chapter.

To reach Clara:
Email: clara.xlstudio@gmail.com
Phone: 416-820-1605
Website: www.xlkitchens.com

Feature photo by Mark McCammon from Pexels

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