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How To Know When Appliances Are Too Old

I wonder if I should buy new appliances (kitchen, laundry, TV, etc.). Other than just comparing EnergyGuide labels, how can I determine the savings? How can I calculate the cost to use an appliance?—Megan H.

There are many things to think about when considering an appliance upgrade—the age of the existing appliance and whether it’s likely to need expensive repairs soon is just a starting point. In general, it makes economic sense to keep your older major appliances about 10 years. Your habits influence the amount of electricity these older appliances use. If you make a strong effort to use them as seldom and as efficiently as possible, that can help while you search for replacements.

For major appliances, comparing the EnergyGuide label is the best method to determine the cost to use each new one. That’s good for comparing one new item to another new item—but what you really want to know is how it will be different from what you already have at home. If you didn’t keep the original EnergyGuide label when you bought your old appliance, you may be able to do an Internet search to find it.

You may not be average
Comparing the old label’s numbers to a possible replacement item can give you a broad picture of the energy savings you might expect in the future. But do keep in mind that EnergyGuide labels show national average annual operating costs. Look carefully to see if the price of electricity per kilowatt-hour on the EnergyGuide label is lower or higher than what you typically pay. Even fractions of pennies can make a big difference during a single year and over the expected lifetime of the new appliance.

If you already are energy-conscious, your current operating costs are likely on the low side for your old appliance, and your savings from installing a new appliance will be lower than the average annual cost figures indicate.

If you have a large family and use your dishwasher and clothes washer a lot, remember when figuring the complete cost to use these appliances to add in the cost to heat the water. Instead of buying new appliances before the old ones wear out, upgrading your water heater to a more efficient model could lower your total energy use.


Calculating energy costs made easy
Visit and take the “Home Tour” to learn about potential energy savings on ENERGY STAR appliances. While you’re there, download the “Save Energy, Save Money” app from ( It’s the simplest and quickest way to calculate the cost to use an electric appliance.


Mail requests and questions to JAMES DULLEY, Kentucky Living, 6906 Royalgreen Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45244, or visit

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