Energy efficient appliances: Add up the savings

By: Allison Millar, Contributing Writer
In: Necessary home improvements, Product review
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Energy efficient appliances are popular items, but can they really save you money? The answer is “yes”…assuming you do your home improvement research and shop wisely.

Quick energy efficient stats

According to ENERGY STAR, the average family spends $2,200 a year on energy, with heating (29%), cooling (17%) and the water heater (14%) taking the most energy. Shave a little from each of these bills and you can savings hundreds of dollar quickly.

While you pay a little more for energy efficient appliances, you can recoup that extra cost in 3 to 5 years in many cases. Look at the savings on three appliances:

  1. Furnaces. Save $100 per year on energy costs with a 3.1 year payback, assuming you spent $310 more on the energy efficient model.
  2. Central air conditioning. Saves $165 per year (3.4 year payback).
  3. Gas water heaters. Save $30 per year (3 year payback). Plus, try these tips from to reduce your water heater bills.

Tips for buying energy efficient appliances

When debating whether to trade up or keep your old appliances, look at the life expectancy. According to, a water heater lasts for 14 years, on average. If yours starts to leak, you have two choices:

  1. Pay $75 to $125 for a service call, plus $75 to $200 for repairs, on average.
  2. Pay $600 to $1,200 for a new water heater.

If you’re approaching year 14, the repair costs might not make sense. If it’s only year 7, you could defer the big cost for now. Can’t decide? Try this handy payback calculator from ENERGY STAR.

Regardless your decision, add to your savings by:

  • Lowering your water heater’s temperature from 140 degrees to 130 degrees to save 3 to 5 percent a year.
  • Adding insulation to your water heater and saving 4 to 9 percent.
  • Adding a programmable thermostat and saving $180 per year.
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