The easiest way to gauge the efficiency of a particular appliance is to read its yellow and black EnergyGuide label. This label, required by Federal Trade Commission law, displays the product's estimated annual energy consumption, the model's capacity and the efficiency ratings of comparable appliances.
Additionally, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rolled out the ENERGY STAR program in 1992 to help consumers save money and protect the environment. ENERGY STAR is a voluntary labeling program and identifies significantly energy-efficient products -- that is, those that reduce emissions and use less energy during operation. You can find an ENERGY STAR rating on everything from a computer monitor to an entire commercial building.
In 2009, ENERGY STAR products helped save American consumers almost $17 billion on their utility bill. ENERGY STAR-labeled products meet strict guidelines from the EPA as well as the U.S. Department of Energy.
Next, we'll discuss how to best take advantage of your energy-efficient appliances in order to gain maximum savings.