Natural Gas and Oil Furnace Systems --Have a professional assess your needs and recommend the type and size of system you should purchase. Size is one of the most important factors affecting the efficiency of these systems. Too large a system costs more and operates inefficiently. Bigger is not always better. For ENERGY STAR qualified furnaces, the AFUE * is 90 or higher. They have advanced technology to deliver 15 percent higher efficiency than standard new furnaces available today. ENERGY STAR boilers have an AFUE of at least 85.
Central Air-to-Air Heat Pumps --If you live in a cool climate, look for a heat pump with a high HSPF * . Contact a professional for advice on purchasing air-to-air heat pumps. ENERGY STAR qualified heat pumps are in the top 25% for efficiency.
Central Air Conditioners --Look for ENERGY STAR qualified units -- they have a SEER * rating of 12 or above. Contact a professional for advice on sizing a central air system. ACs that bear the ENERGY STAR are at least 20% more efficient than new air conditioners and may be twice as efficient as some existing systems.
Clothes Washers --Look for features that help cut water use: automatic water level controls, "suds saver" features, spin cycle adjustment, and large capacity. ENERGY STAR qualified washers use 50% less energy and about half as much water per load compared to standard models.
Room Air Conditioners --Buy a correctly sized and energy efficient unit. The higher the EER * , the more efficient the unit. If the room is very sunny, increase capacity by 10%. For a kitchen unit, increase the capacity by up to 4,000 Btus per hour. ENERGY STAR qualified units exceed minimum federal standards by at least 15%. What size to buy?
TVs, VCRs & TV/VCR Combination Units, Home Audio Equipment & DVD Equipment --Home electronics still use energy when turned off in order to maintain features like remote control and channel memory. ENERGY STAR qualified models offer the same performance, reliability and quality while saving up to 50% more energy over conventional units.
Windows --Look for the ENERGY STAR. These windows have features that reduce heat loss in colder climates as well as heat gain in warmer climates. The NFRC (National Fenestration Rating Council) also provides a label that means a window is rated and certified for both U-factor and Solar Heat Gain. The lower the number, the greater the energy benefits.
Residential Lighting --Look for ENERGY STAR qualified lighting fixtures and compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). They meet quality and reliability guidelines. Energy-efficient CFLs use up to 75 percent less energy and last up to 10 times longer.
Dishwashers --Look for features that will reduce water use, such as booster heaters and smart controls. Ask how many gallons of water the dishwasher uses during different cycles. Dishwashers that use the least amount of water will cost the least to operate. ENERGY STAR qualified dishwashers use 25% less energy than the federal minimum standard for energy consumption. Because they use less hot water than conventional models, they save about $100 over their lifetime.
Refrigerators and Freezers --Refrigerators with freezers on top are more efficient than side-by-side units. Look for an "energy saver" switch on models with the freezer on top. When purchasing a frost-free refrigerator, buy one with an energy-efficient option. Look for heavy door hinges, which create a good door seal. ENERGY STAR qualified models exceed federal standards by least 15%.
Home office equipment --When office equipment sits idle for long periods of time during the day and night, it can waste energy. Office equipment, such as computers and monitors, that have earned the ENERGY STAR help eliminate wasted energy through power management features. When ENERGY STAR computers are not in use, they automatically enter a low-power "sleep" mode that uses about 80% less energy than when in full power.
Cordless Phones --ENERGY STAR qualified cordless phones, answering machines, and cordless phone/answering machine combination units perform much more efficiently than conventional units through "smart"chargers and switch-mode power supply circuits, and use about one-third of the energy.
Room Air Cleaners --In addition to removing fine particle matter from the air, ENERGY STAR qualified models are 35% more energy efficient than standard models and can save consumers 215 kwh/year, or $16 annually on utility bills. These savings could add up to as much as $150 over the life of the air cleaner!
Programmable Thermostats --A programmable thermostat allows you to preset different temperature programs to meet your comfort needs efficiently during different times of the day or week. An ENERGY STAR qualified thermostat can save up to $100/yr. when programmed and used properly.
Insulation --The proper type and level of insulation for your home increases comfort and reduces energy costs. Installing insulation properly is also important. Make ENERGYSTAR qualified insulation a part of your whole house approach to preventing unwanted air leaks.
Ceiling fans --They can increase your comfort range by creating a cool breeze on warm days. Look for one that has earned the ENERGY STAR for 20% more in savings. Hang your fan so that its blades are at least one foot below the ceiling, seven feet above the floor, and two feet from the nearest wall. If you are looking for lighting for your fan, be sure to purchase an ENERGY STAR qualified light kit for additional savings.
Dehumidifiers --ENERGY STAR qualified models provide enhanced moisture removal as well as quiet operation, reliability and durability. They operate at least 10% more efficiently than standard models.
Explanation: Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE * ) and Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF * ) are measures of heating efficiency. Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER * ) and Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER * ) are measures of cooling efficiency. The higher the efficiency level for any particular product, the more energy it will save.