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Have you ever considered the impact that your household appliances have on the environment? If your appliances are more than 10 years old, the environmental effect could be significant. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average three-person household contributes 16,365 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions annually, which is the equivalent of burning 18 barrels of oil in your backyard every year. Fortunately reducing your environmental impact isn’t difficult, especially when you opt for simple changes and use the EPA’s carbon footprint calculator to estimate the effect. Choosing greener home appliances and educating yourself on the subject will help you shrink your carbon footprint in no time.
Understanding Energy Efficiency Ratings
Today all appliances come with a variety of labels to help consumers understand the unit’s estimated efficiency. You may already be familiar with EnergyGuide, a yellow label that allows consumers to determine a product’s energy efficiency by estimating annual operating expenses compared to other models. Many products also bear an Energy Star label, which indicates that the appliance meets or exceeds federal efficiency standards.
You can also compare seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) ratings, which measure the relative energy an air conditioner needs to achieve a desired cooling output, or heating seasonal performance factor (HSPF) ratings for heat pumps and annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) ratings for furnaces. For each rating, a higher number reflects a more efficient unit.
How to Evaluate and Maximize Energy Efficiency
To evaluate your home’s efficiency, perform an audit of your home’s appliances. When was the last time you replaced them? According to the National Resources Defense Council, today’s refrigerators use 75 percent less energy than those built decades ago. Washers, toilets, hot water heaters, and HVAC systems have all become more efficient in recent years. Choosing an energy-efficient HVAC system isn’t the only way to make your home greener. You can also upgrade to a smart thermostat to optimize energy consumption around the clock, whether you’re home, asleep, at work or out and about.
How to Choose the Right HVAC System for Your Home
Many homeowners mistakenly believe that a larger HVAC unit can cool your home more efficiently. However, an HVAC system that’s too large for its intended space will cool the room quickly and then shut off. It won’t adequately reduce the humidity, instead leaving the room feeling clammy and uncomfortable. In contrast, an HVAC unit that’s sized correctly for a space will run more consistently. That allows the unit to cool and dehumidify the space efficiently, saving you energy and money.
Where to Find Reviews and Rebates on Efficient Products
Energy Star provides a search finder to compare products and appliances along with information on product rebates. Here, you can see exactly how items like refrigerators, washers, and HVAC systems stack up against each other while also easing the impact on your wallet. You might not think that you alone can make a difference. However, making small changes like choosing greener home appliances lessens your environmental impact and makes the planet a little healthier.