When someone tells you that you should reduce your carbon footprint, do you ever wonder what they mean? By reducing your carbon footprint, you are lessening the amount of carbon emissions you release into the air. Not you personally, of course, but your possessions: vehicles, appliances and even garbage. When you reduce your carbon footprint, you help make the planet a healthier place to live for everyone. One of the best things you can do is to replace your appliances with those that are energy-star certified.
Even if you don’t buy a fridge with the energy-star seal, if you are replacing an 1980s model with one produced today, you will save over $100 a year on operating costs. If you purchase a new refrigerator that is energy-star certified, you can save an additional 15 percent.
While you may be in love with the side-by-side models, they use between 10 to 15 percent more energy than models with a top mounted freezer. Also be sure to buy the size of refrigerator that you really need. Buying a too large refrigerator that sits mostly empty will use more energy than a smaller fridge. Your refrigerator will run more efficiently if it is kept full.
Those clothes washers produced prior to 1994 use far more energy than washers made today. If you replace your old model with a new one, you can expect to save over $100 on your energy bills every year. By purchasing a clothes washer with the energy-star label you will use 50 percent less energy than other models and save 20 gallons of water per load!
As with refrigerators, you should purchase the size washer that you need. Rather than purchasing a small washer and doing several loads, purchase a larger machine and do fewer loads. Make sure the washing machine that you choose has adjustable water levels. This will allow you to use less water if you’re only washing a few items.
Gone are the days of pre-washing your dishes, with the newest models of dishwashers available. Simply scrape your plates off, load the washer and start a cycle. The newest machines also use less hot water than their older counterparts, saving you money on both your water bill and your heating bill. Be sure to look for a dishwasher that allows you to choose between light wash or energy saving cycles for smaller or dirtier loads.
Water heaters that are older than ten years are operating at about 50 percent efficiency. For this reason alone it’s a good idea to replace your water heater with a newer model. Be sure to purchase a heater with a ‘first hour rating’ (FHR) that matches the amount of hot water used by your household during your busiest hour. For instance, four people taking a hot shower in the morning will use about 80 gallons of water, running a cycle in your dishwasher will use eight gallons and running the clothes washer will use 32 gallons. The FHR rating is more important than the actual size of the tank.
5. Small Room Air Conditioners
If you have an air conditioner in one of your windows that is more than 10 years old, replacing it with a newer model will cut your energy consumption by 20 to 50 percent. Keep in mind that it is more efficient to run a smaller unit for a longer period of time than running an overly large unit for a short amount of time. When shopping for a window unit, look at the Energy Efficiency Ratio. The most efficient EER will be over 9.7.
Connie Prescott is a conservation writer who works with NRDC and other organizations to protect our health and environment. The popular use of energy efficient appliances has been an important part of reducing our personal carbon footprint, a real step in reducing the effects of global warming for our planet.