Sleek and practical are the new grand and ornate in the housing market.
So when it comes to new appliances, you can find convenience and efficiency in a wide range of appealing new designs for everyone from entry-level buyers to those shopping at the top of the line, according to Erik Schneider of Hometown Appliance and Electronics in St. John.
“Almost every manufacturer has a wide range of options, and you can choose an appliance package that includes all the same brand or similar styles,” he said. “It’s all about the look, the aesthetics. Everything has the same handles, and with multiple appliance purchases from the same manufacturer, you are likely to be eligible for rebates.”
It’s no secret that older, inefficient appliances waste money and energy.
In 1992, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) introduced ENERGY STAR®, a voluntary labeling program that helps consumers easily find the most energy-efficient products to protect the environment and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The EPA partners with the US Department of Energy (DOE) to evaluate appliances, office equipment, lighting, home electronics, and even homes and office buildings for the blue ENERGY STAR label.
According to the DOE, The U.S. consumes nearly one million dollars worth of energy every minute. By choosing high-efficiency appliances over conventional models, US consumers saved $12 billion on utility bills and avoided greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 23 million cars last year.
That’s because nearly 70 percent of U.S. electricity is generated with coal and natural gas, which release greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. Plus, using water efficiently benefits our lakes, streams and oceans. When you use less energy and water, you help reduce the impact on our environment.
The ENERGY STAR label means a product meets or exceeds strict energy-efficiency guidelines established by the EPA and DOE - so you’ll always find it on the most efficient washing machines, refrigerators and dishwashers.
For example, most HE (high efficiency) Energy Star washing machine models use 4x less energy than those manufactured before 1999. Plus, they spin your clothes faster-most traditional top load washers spin clothes at 1000 rpms while HE front loaders spin up to 1300 rpms. This saves time and money since you and your clothes will spend less drying time – and efficient washers are gentler on clothes, resulting in less wear-and-tear.
Plus, washing machines are one of the biggest water wasters in your house - second to the toilet in the U.S. To save more water, look for a low water factor with a low or no agitator inside. Again, HE front loaders use the least amount of water, somewhere between 8-13 gallons compared with older machines that use up to 55 gallons.
“Appliances are evolving all the time. While you might think that your 25-year-old refrigerator is saving you money as long as it’s in working condition, the opposite is actually true,” Eric Hart of Nason’s Appliance Company in Crown Point said. “Thanks to recent improvements in compressors and insulation, newer refrigerators use much less energy than those from even just 10 years ago. A new ENERGY STAR refrigerator will save over $100 if you replace one purchased in the 80s or almost $200 a year if yours is from the 70s.”
In fact, in most homes, the refrigerator is the biggest energy-depleting kitchen appliance.
“You’ll also find that a free-standing double oven range reduces the amount of gas used since each oven has a smaller capacity cavity,” Hart added. “The smaller oven is ideal for 9 x 13 pans, while the big oven handles holiday turkeys and roasts.”
Dishwashers have also improved greatly. If you own one from before 1994, you are spending almost $40 a year extra in utility costs and wasting more than 10 gallons of water per cycle. Energy Star models save an average of 1300 gallons over their lifetime.
In order to determine the best options for your needs, Schneider, who is an experienced carpenter in both commercial and residential construction, suggests you know the dimensions of the space where your appliances are going, particularly if you're getting a new refrigerator.
“Don't measure the appliance you are replacing, there are many more options in appliances today,” he said. “It’s also important to have a budget in mind when it comes to reviewing the different options and styles available that are going to work best for your layout since most appliances, such as a refrigerator and stove, will function the same at different price points – although with a dishwasher, you truly get what you pay for.”
For example, General Electric introduced a line of appliances aimed at “younger” buyers – first-time homebuyers between the ages of 25 and 34 – last year.
“As far as GE Artistry goes, it's very appealing for first-time homebuyers because it looks great and is very affordable,” Pam Maruszczak of Maruszczak Appliance Sales and Service in Schererville said. “It comes in black or white with stainless steel handles and knobs plus chrome trim. The refrigerator is a bottom freezer model that fits into almost any space so it also works well when remodeling older homes. The range has a great analog clock for all of us that remember how to tell time on them and the microwave has a digital clock for those of us that don't! The dishwasher has nylon racks and dedicated silverware jets to get that last pieces of food off those spoons.”
Along with GE’s new Artistry Series, Maruszczak carries the full line of GE appliances from the top down plus an extensive variety of other trusted brands from entry level to high-end professional with kitchen vignettes offering buyers fresh, new ideas in their showroom.
“We back everything we sell with factory-authorized service and always use a soft, personable sales approach,” Maruszczak added. “We also take great pride in our professional in-house delivery and installation services.”
Along with a great selection and their in-depth product knowledge, service after the sale is what distinguishes a locally-owned and operated independent appliance store from bigger box stores.
Further, Hart points out that it’s a big misconception among consumers today that independent stores cannot compete with box stores when it comes to pricing.
“That’s outrageous! Our volume and buying group allow for us to beat any advertised special in print more than 90 percent of the time for the products we carry,” he explained. “Plus, all of our installation and delivery costs are straight forward and usually end up being less than our competitors as they pull the blindfolds over their customers’ eyes promising free delivery, then riddling them with fees for kits. Another thing that’s really important to our customers is the fact that we keep our dollars local. Keeping it within the community means we are always contributing to local youth programs and school systems that need our support.”
When looking for new appliances – whether it’s for a new home or as your old reliable appliances break down - choosing the most efficient models should be a top priority. In most cases, you don't have to spend more to save more. Energy-efficient choices are available at nearly all price points.
Buying the most efficient models your budget will allow, you will save energy, save money and curb emissions.