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Upgrading Old Appliances?

There has never been a better time to upgrade some of those older creaky appliances that are gobbling up much more energy (or water) than they need to in your home.

First, look for models emblazoned with the blue ENERGY STAR logo ( This helps you zero in on those models that have been determined by the federal government to be at least 10 to 25 percent more energy efficient (and often much more) than conventional models.

For dishwashers, for example, ENERGY STAR-qualified models use 31 percent less energy and 33 percent less water than conventional machines while performing as well as or better. With clothes washers, ENERGY STAR models can cut energy use by more than a third and water use by half. ENERGY STAR-rated refrigerators will cut electrical use in half, compared to older machines made before 1993. With air conditioners, the savings is there, too, though at a more modest 10 percent over conventional models.

Second, check out the yellow EnergyGuide sticker, which gets down to the nitty-gritty and estimates how much energy the appliance uses, compares its energy use to similar products, and lists approximate annual operating costs. EnergyGuide labels also appear on appliances not ENERGY STAR compliant.

Also, check out the Consumers Union (publisher of Consumer Reports magazine) free Greener Choices Web site,, which compares a wide range of merchandise according to their relative environmental impact. It offers a series of calculators to determine the energy use of your current appliances, new or old. By providing the efficiency and price of various models, the site helps consumers decide how much green “bang” they want for a specific amount of bucks.

Write EarthTalk, c/o E/The Environmental Magazine, P.O. Box 5098, Westport, CT 06881 or e-mail

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