Just as the world economic crisis of 2008 seems to become a memory the world is hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Obeying lockdown rules and regulations are slowing the spread but it is also affecting the economy.
Once again, many people are looking at an uncertain future. When every penny counts it’s time to evaluate where your money is going and how you can make the most of what you have.
It’s a great time to do a new budget and look at cost savings. One of the biggest questions that you’ll probably ask yourself is whether you can save on your energy bill and if energy-efficient appliances save you money.
It’s not a straightforward answer.
Purchasing Only for energy saving
If you’re purchasing a new appliance only because it may cost less to run then you should be carefully considering the cost of purchasing it.
A new washing machine can cost several hundred dollars, however it can potentially use half the energy of an older model, if the older model is 10-12 years old.
That sounds like quite a saving but, how often do you use the washing machine and how much energy does it use? A rough estimate, for older machines, of cost is $2 per load. If you do 3 loads per week that’s $6 per week, $312 per year.
A new machine will use approximately half the energy and cost $156 per year, a saving of $156, however it also should be noted that these figures include detergent and an allowance for drying, making a 50% reduction very generous.
You now need to consider what your new machine will cost, that will tell you how many years it is before you earn your money back and actually start saving money. In the above example, it will be 3-4 years.
In short, you probably wouldn't want to buy only for the reduced running cost.
The same logic can be applied to any household appliance. If it’s working properly now then it will take years to recover the cost. You have to question whether it’s really worthwhile, especially as you’ll be disposing of something and increasing waste which harms the environment more than the extra power consumption.
When you Need An Appliance
If your appliance is dead or needs regular repair then you need to purchase a new one anyway. In this instance, you should look for the most energy-efficient one possible. This will speed up the recovery of your funds and reduce your monthly energy usage and bills.
But, you should also ensure that the appliance is no bigger than you need and, if possible, has a lighter setting. This is common with dishwashers and washing machines.
Don’t forget that in the long term the new appliance will save you money. But, if yours isn’t broke consider waiting. Every year more efficient machines are created, the longer you wait for the more energy-efficient the machine you buy may be.
The Energy Rating
If you’ve decided that your old appliance is worth replacing then the next step is to look at energy ratings. Every appliance will have an energy rating sticker on it. This system started in 1992 and s very easy to understand.
It consists of stars, the more stars the appliance has the more efficient it is. If you’re interested in saving energy when you change your appliance you need to be looking for the one with the most stars.
To illustrate how important this is, consider the following.
A refrigerator with a 3-star rating will cost approximately $106 per year to run. That’s assuming it’s on all the time. That’s just over $2 a week which seems pretty low.
But, a 5-star rated refrigerator will cost roughly $63 to run for the same year! That’s a saving of $43 over the 3-star rated refrigerator!
Less energy used is better for your wallet and the environment. It can also help to justify the cost of replacing your appliance. After all, a new 3-star rated product will use less energy than an old appliance. That will increase your savings even more, potentially covering the cost of your new appliance in a few years.
A new 5-star washing machine can save you $56 a year compared to a new 3-star one.
In fact, if you opt for a 5-star fridge, television, washing machine, dishwasher, and dryer instead of 3-star rated ones you could save as much as $200 in one year on your energy bill!
Standard appliances are rated on a scale of 1-6. As mentioned, the higher the rating the better. In short, you need an appliance with 6 stars. However, more recent advancements have meant the star rating has been changed for advanced energy-efficient appliances. In these instances, they can have as many as 10 stars.
But, comparing stars and savings only works if you’re comparing similar products. It doesn’t matter what the star rating is, a 700-liter fridge is likely to cost more to run than a 400 liter one.
It should also be obvious that energy saving is only possible if you continue to use the appliance in the same way. Deciding you have an energy-efficient tv and then deciding to leave it on all day long will not help your energy bill or the environment, then again many modern tvs also have sensors and turn off when no one is around for some time.
When considering energy-efficient appliances you should also look at water consumption, where appropriate.
Modern machines achieve the same level of cleanliness with much less water than older ones. This won’t affect your energy bill but it will cost you more in water usage. It will also increase your impact on the environment.
If the label doesn’t show the water usage of your machine, take a look in the manual. It’s important to note this figure and compare it with other potential choices. It will help to ensure you purchase the right machine for your needs and your budget.
Additional Tips To Save Energy With Modern Energy Appliances
Your fridge and freezer will use more energy the lower you set the temperature. Estimates suggest setting it between 3°C and 4°C, any lower and you’ll use 5% more energy. Between 3-4°C is the perfect temperature for your fridge.
Likewise, your freezer should be between -15°C and -18°C.
When using your washing machine, don’t forget that the higher the temperature of the wash, the greater the energy consumption. This simply reflects the fact that energy is used to heat the water.
In addition, hanging clothes to dry on a line instead of putting them in the dryer can save you another $100 per year.
Washing machines and dishwashers should have both hot and cold connections. This will ensure they use less energy to get the right temperature for the water. The latest models even offer a water retention facility which can minimize energy usage even further.
It makes sense that the larger your television the more power you’re going to use. Of course, you need to balance this energy saving with the convenience and enjoyment. In the case of a television, you may prefer the larger screen to ensure you appreciate every piece of your favorite show and chopping 15-20cm off the size of your next TV would only save you something like $26 per year.
Of course leaving computers on, especially powerful gaming ones or those with large screens can also churn through electricity and simply turning them off when not in use and adjusting power settings can save energy.
Consider your energy supplier
Changing your appliances to ones that are modern and more efficient to run makes sense when you need to change the appliance anyway. This is the great way to reduce your annual energy bill and help to save the environment.
You also need to consider where your energy is coming from. You should assess your current supplier and make a note of which suppliers can offer you a better deal. You may be surprised at how much you can save.
Don’t forget to compare introductory deals and long-term deals. An energy contract can look very attractive if you’re getting the energy for half price. However, if the price rises to double after 6 months, your energy contract will not look so attractive and your energy savings will disappear.
Choosing the right energy supplier will also give you the opportunity to look at their green credentials. More and more energy is being created via sustainable sources, such as solar and wind. Choosing a supplier that focuses on these methods means you’re not just saving yourself money, you’re also saving the planet.
To help assess your current energy usage and the savings you’re making, you could also have a smart meter installed. This will help you to monitor usage, change your habits, and ultimately save energy and money.