Appliances have become more efficent, cost effective

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 29, 2008

They’re the conveniences you can’t live without. But checking on their energy efficiencies in these days of rising gas and other prices can bail out a family budget.

First off, the quality and method of insulation that is done nowadays compared with that used in the past decade has improved the energy efficiency of that constantly opened up appliance, the refrigerator.

“They used to have fiberglass and it used to settle,” says Mark Hupp of M&K Maytag in Proctorville. “With foam it is way more energy efficient. That type of stuff creates really good insulation. And the compressors are more efficient and running better.”

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That has reduced the cost of the electricity to run a refrigerator from approximately $100 a year 10 to 15 years ago to now $40 to $50 a year, Hupp says.

One of the major ways to economize with appliances is by using a front load washing machine over the more conventional top-loading appliance.

A front load will save 10,000 gallons a year, Hupp says.

“A front load washes with 50 percent less water that you would be heating,” he said. “A front load can do bigger loads with less water. In the last five years, they have gotten popular.”

However, about a decade ago, they were almost discontinued because of lack of consumer appeal at that time.

One of the ways that a front load is able to be so efficient is that it does not use an agitator as a top load does. With an agitator more water is needed to circulate the clothes inside the machine. Usually that means 25 gallons a load compared with 10 gallons for the top load.

“You figure with a family a front load versus a regular that’s $180 in utility savings,” Hupp said. “It basically pays for itself.”

Sensor control model dryers can offer some electricity savings as the sensor measures the amount of moisture in the clothes, which translates to the appliance not running as long.

A better design for window unit air conditioners is also offering a consumer savings, Jim Hacker of Iron City Hardware, says.

“Now they are quieter running,” he said. “The compressor is more efficient and not running all the time.”

While there isn’t much as far as energy efficiency with ranges, the appliance that cleans up after a meal has some efficient qualities.

Dishwashers with an electronic eye comparable to the clothes dryer’s sensor can detect when the water going through the cycle goes from dirty to clean.

“It will continue to wash until that water is clear. If the dishes aren’t very dirty as soon as that eye recognizes clear water, it advances to dry,” Hupp said. “Most people put it on a normal wash for every load. If you use the auto clean, it will save

you energy.”