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Energy Star Appliances and Buildings

written by: Stephanie Michael•edited by: Niki Fears•updated: 5/24/2011

Many of us are looking for ways to save money. Fortunately buying appliances with Energy Star ratings save money while helping to save the earth. Find out what qualifies something as Energy Star rated and find out just how much you can save.

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    What is an Energy Star appliance?

    Energy Star appliances are those appliances considered by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and the DOE (Department of Energy) to be more efficient than appliances that simply meet the minimums required by the federal standard. Learning how to identify Energy Star appliances as well as identifying the short and long term benefits of using Energy Star appliances and building materials is crucial to shifting the way we live and build in the united states.

    American homes, specifically our refrigerators, air conditioners, and washers and dryers, account for nearly 14% of all energy use in the US. A lot of the time much of that energy is used up in inefficient ways either by use of non energy rated appliances or through a lack of insulation around water heaters, doorways, windows, and in attic spaces. We have a responsibility to our children and to our selves to help create more efficient and more sustainable ways of living.

    Since 1992 the EPA has been labeling more energy efficient appliances with the Energy Star rating. It is designed to promote and make it easier to identify appliances and homes that save money and energy while lessening their environmental impact. On average a home with an Energy Star rating or with mostly Energy Star appliances will save an average of 30% on their electric bill and will save close to 30% of the house holds potential carbon emissions.

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    How does a product or building qualify for an Energy Star rating?

    There are different guidelines for each product but in order to qualify a product will have to be more efficient that the federally mandated minimum requirements. When shopping look for the yellow EnergyGuide label that lists the average yearly savings vs non Energy Star models. You can check the Energy Star website for specific guidelines on what qualifies individual appliances and building materials. An Energy Star rated home is one that has been built to be 20-30% more efficient than standard homes. In most cases this means the use of more efficient materials and building practices such as insulation and the optimization of air flow as well as the use of Energy Star appliances and fixtures. Having an Energy Star rated home can save home owners an average of $200-300 a year.

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    Where can you find Energy Star appliances?

    You don't have to go to a specialty store or spend hours trying to locate the nearest Energy Star retailer. Because they can be found at any store that sells electronic or gas appliances as well as at hardware stores. Most of the products will be proudly displayed as Energy Star rated and employees should be able to help you choose the products that are best for you. The best part is that Energy Star appliances don't have to cost more than non-Energy Star rated.

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    Immediate benefits

    Even though Energy Star appliances save the home owner money and save the earth from unnecessary pollution you can find most Energy Star appliance in the same price range of non Energy Star rated units and most stores offer special rebates. Home owners can also receive up to a 30% tax credit for the purchase and use of Energy Star rated appliances and practices.

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    Long term benefits

    Over the years the Energy Star appliances and materials you use will pay for themselves in annual savings. You will also see an increase in the value of your home both fiscally and to those buyers who are more environmentally aware. The savings in carbon emission will also add up. In 2008 we “saved enough energy to power 10 million homes and avoid greenhouse gas emissions from 12 million cars - all while saving $6 billion dollars.”

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    Going the extra mile

    Once you've checkout out Energy Star appliance and building strategies be sure to check out the Energy Star Indoor Air Package, a new Energy Star rating that accounts for the air quality inside a home. Then, check out the nearly endless variety of available green home programs like waste reduction, water-efficient products, renewable energy, recycling, and sustainable land development.

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    Sources

    answers.usa.gov, http://answers.usa.gov/cgi-bin/gsa_ict.cfg/php/enduser/std_adp.php?p_faqid=7995

    Energy Star, http://www.energystar.gov/

    Department of Energy, http://www.energy.gov/energyefficiency/energystar.htm

    Energy Information Administration, http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/reps/enduse/er01_us.html