In order to earn the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Energy Star label, products need to be proven energy efficient and cost effective for consumers. To learn more, click here.
According to a WaterSense representative, for a product-which for now only includes toilets, bathroom faucets, showerheads, and urinals-to meet the EPA’s WaterSense requirements, the organization has to test and certify each product for efficiency. They also conduct overall home certifications. You can learn about this relatively new program here.
Replacing incandescent light bulbs with compact florescent ones will shave one fourth off of your energy bill. America would save $600 million in energy each year if each household replaced one bulb, says Tristan Roberts, Managing Editor of buildinggreen.com.
These Energy Star rated light bulbs last for 10,000 hours, whereas regular incandescent bulbs only last around 2,000 hours. They also combat allergies and asthma with a built in ionizer, and even elevate mood with negative ions.
9-Watt Flourescent Bulbs, 2-pack for $17, lowes.com
"An energy-efficient fridge saves at least 20 percent each year, compared to a conventional fridge," says Roberts. Look for a model with the freezer on top as opposed to a side-by-side—it’s more efficient. And skip the water-cooler feature; it’s an energy guzzler. Finally, says Roberts, "it’s counter-productive to use your old fridge as a backup."
GE 21.0 Cu. Ft. Top Freezer Refrigerator, $944.10 on sale, homedepot.com.
Running faucets add up to 15 percent of America’s water usage. "The nation will save more than $350 million in water bills each year if Americans replace their faucets," says Roberts. A household can save $10 per month by replacing just their bathroom faucets, according to the WaterSense representative.
The key element to look for is faucets with 1.5 gpm aerators or the aerator separately if your faucet doesn’t come with one. Also watch for the EPA’s WaterSense label, ensuring the product will reduce water usage and run more efficiently.
Moen Caldwell classic brushed nickel two-handle low arc bathroom faucet, $494.70, moen.com
Old toilet models flush 5 gallons of water per flush and they often leak, says Roberts. In his opinion, the best, most efficient, and quietest toilet right now is Niagara Conservation’s Stealth model-it only uses 0.8 gallons of water per flush and it’s WaterSense-certified for ensured efficiency. The WaterSense representative reports that a family of four could save more than $90 each month on water bills by making the switch.
Niagara Conservation Stealth 0.8 GPF Ultra High Efficiency Toilet, $308, Itseasybeinggreen.com
New dishwashers need a lot less water and use technology that senses how dirty dishes are and crank out just enough cleaning power. The WaterSense representative says that households could save $170 each year by replacing a dishwasher.
This Energy Star-qualified dishwasher uses an Auto Soil sensor to automatically adjust the cycle so it doesn’t use unnecessary energy.
Whirlpool 24" Tall Tub Built-In Dishwasher in stainless steel, $404.99 on sale, bestbuy.com
Front load washers use a lot less water, and new washers offer higher spinning speed to rid clothes of more water to reduce time in the dryer.
According to the Energy Star website, switching to a certified washer can save $135 per year on utility bills.
This Energy Star qualified washer has more room to wash items-even comforters-in one cycle, so you do less loads.
GE 4.0 Cu. Ft. IEC King Size Capacity Washer, $549 on sale,
Unfortunately, it’s better to use drying racks because dryer machines use up so much energy, according to Roberts. But in terms of energy efficiency, dryers will match up with their washer counterparts.
Also great for bigger pieces like comforters and towels, this dryer has a Sensor Dry Plus feature to avoid over-drying, which would waste energy.
GE 7.0 IEC Cu. Ft. Super Capacity Electric Dryer, $549 on sale
Tristan Roberts, Managing Editor of buildinggreen.com:
Computer Usage-Computers release a lot of heat when left running, so turn off your desktop or laptop or put it to sleep mode when you’re not using it.
Programmable Thermostats-Don’t leave yours unprogrammed. It’s important to set the temperature lower at night and during the day when you’re not home.
Air Filtration-Insulate gaps in the basement, attic, drains and around light fixtures so they’re airtight.
Richard Harp, Construction President of Green Built Home of Arkansas:
Air conditioning filter-Clean these regularly and make sure they’re maintained annually.
Solar Energy-Solar panels and hot water heaters can make a difference, but are more costly to add on to a home.