Akhila is a Justmeans staff writer for CSR and ethical consumption. As an IEMA certified CSR practitioner, she hopes to highlight a new way of doing business. She believes that consumers have the immense power to change 'business as usual' through their choices. She is a Graduate in Molecular Biology from the University of Glasgow, UK and in Environmental Management and Law. In her free-time she i...
Home appliances account for about 17% of your household's energy consumption, with refrigerators, clothes washers, dishwashers and clothes dryers at the top. There are several ways to be clever about energy usage in the house and reduce the amount of energy as well as your electricity bill. First, switch to a green power supplier if you haven't already done so. Several states now offer smart meters so make sure you get one if your state offers them. Second, there are several global energy standards that you can adhere to in your purchase of appliances - make sure to check for either an EnergyGuide, GreenSeal or Energy Star label. Although it varies from gadget to gadget, typically Energy Star gadgets save up to 20% to 30% in energy on the average. Third, rethink your gadgets - do you really need so many? Will you ever use that ice-cream maker or waffle maker on a regular basis? Also consider the size of the appliance - do you really need a refrigerator that big?
I write this after the US Department of Energy has proposed a new standard that would decrease energy use of most refrigerator-freezers by 20%-25% by 2014. Whilst this is a great move, there is a lot that can be done in terms of resource efficiency for other gadgets also.
Laundry is one those areas where you can make a massive energy saving. Invest in a front-loader which is a standard in most European countries. They are gentler on your clothes and use 40-75% less water and 30-85% less energy than typical top-loaders. Simply by choosing cold water to wash clothes, you save a whopping 90% of energy. Try avoiding use of your dryer altogether - by using a clothes horse to dry out your clothes you are making a 100% energy saving. These principle are valid even for dishwashers.
Some of the biggest names, such as Kohler, Bosch, GE, Kenmore, Asko and KitchenAid are on board with energy saving appliances. Whirlpool recently introduced the Resource Saver refrigerator which has an Energy Star rating and is supposedly the most energy efficient side-by-side refrigerator made. They have also introduced the Green Generation range which is said to have smart sensors that optimise the use of water and energy.
Finally consider 'embodied energy' which is the energy use that is involved in the manufacture, transport of the new appliance. There is no clean cut method of evaluating this - one of the best ways you can reduce the impact of embodied energy is to ensure that you responsibly dispose of you old appliance as well as research the brand your buying. Having greener home appliances is not only kinder for the planet but also your wallet.