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When shopping for home appliances that use a lot of energy or water, such as refrigerators, dishwashers and clothes washers, always look for the Energy Star label. Energy Star–qualified appliances save more energy and money than standard models that merely meet the government's basic standards for energy efficiency.

Energy Star is a great place to start, but keep in mind that there's a big variation in energy and water use even among products that have the Energy Star label. To find the greenest appliances, compare the actual energy and water use of the models you're interested in. You can find this information on the manufacturer's or retailer's website, or you can download product lists from www.energystar.gov. When shopping in a store, look for energy use information printed on the yellow and black EnergyGuide label that's on most major appliances.

In some cases, high-efficiency appliances cost a little more than less efficient ones. But they save you money over the long run because they use less energy and less water. And if you shop around, you can usually find a good deal on a very efficient appliance, no matter what your budget.

As an added benefit, many high-efficiency appliances work even better than their standard counterparts. High-efficiency refrigerators maintain more uniform temperature thanks to more efficient compressors, more precise temperature controls and improved insulation. Efficient dishwashers consistently heat water to the appropriate level to get dishes clean. And front-loading washing machines are less abrasive to fabric, helping clothes last longer.

Appliance GreenPointers

  • Start with the Energy Star. The Green Product Directory features some of the most efficient appliances on the market. But if you don't see what you're looking for here, expand your search. For a list of all qualifying Energy Star models, visit www.energystar.gov. When shopping online, many websites allow you to narrow your appliance search to only Energy Star models. When shopping in stores, look for the Energy Star logo on the appliances.
  • Use the EnergyGuide label. When shopping for major appliances, in addition to the Energy Star logo, always look for the yellow-and-black EnergyGuide label. It tells you how much energy and dollars that particular model is expected to use in a year. Take a little time to comparison shop—it'll pay off when it comes time to pay your utility bills.
  • Find rebates. Some high-efficiency appliances may cost more to buy, but in general they cost less to operate over time. And efficient appliances may qualify for rebates. Check with your local utility company for rebate options before you buy a new major appliance.
  • Recycle old appliances. When buying a new major appliance, be sure to properly dispose of the old one it's replacing. Some local utility companies have programs that will pick up your old refrigerator or freezer for recycling and even give you money for it. If that's not available, contact your waste hauler for recycling options. 

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