Let's talk about the most common appliances you might have in your home, and how they can affect your bills. We'll start with the refrigerator and washing machine. It's strongly advised that if you're choosing a new appliance, you keep EnergyGuide and ENERGY STAR ratings in mind.
Your fridge is probably the biggest energy-sucker in your house. It uses between 1000 and 1500 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year, with an average cost of about $90 per year. If your fridge is old, it could be costing you upward of $250 per year. When selecting an energy-efficient refrigerator model, look for one with the freezer on top or bottom. Generally, that type of refrigerator is more efficient than a side-by-side model. If your model has an "energy saver" switch, use it. It allows you to turn down the heating coils -- too much heat uses more energy. Also, keep your fridge between 35 and 38 degrees Fahrenheit (1.6 and 3.3 degrees Celsius). Keeping it colder than that will use up more energy.
Your washer uses around 800 kWh per year, costing you around $75 per year. When you purchase a washing machine, you first need to decide if you want a top loader or a front loader. Front-loader machines are generally more efficient than top loaders, but each have their benefits and drawbacks. It's just a personal choice. Look for energy-saving features that allow control of the water level and temperature. Cold water uses much less energy and gets most clothes just as clean. Make sure your machine is full (but not too full) each time you use it. Wash smaller loads only if you can adjust the water level. Don't use too much detergent -- it makes the machine work harder.
On the next page, we'll take a look at your dryer and dishwasher.