If you’re like most people, you’re probably constantly searching for ways to lower your monthly bills. In California, the average family pays nearly $300 a month just in electricity costs. This means that reducing your electricity usage should be the first place to start when trying to save. Replacing your old appliances with new, more energy-efficient units is one easy way to lower your energy bills. However, not all upgrades make sense financially as there are some appliances where the energy savings won’t ever be enough to balance out the high cost of the new unit. With this in mind, let’s take a closer look at your different appliances to help you determine when replacing them makes sense or when you’re better off sticking with your old unit.
Refrigerators and Freezers
Since 2000, there has been a huge increase in the energy efficiency of refrigerators and freezers. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean you should immediately run out and buy a new fridge. How much energy you can save with a new unit depends on both the type of fridge you currently have and how old it is. New refrigerators usually cost a bit over $1,000. You can use this number to determine whether the energy savings will offset the new unit’s cost.
If your refrigerator was built before 2000, then replacing it will definitely add up to some significant savings. According to ENERGY STAR, upgrading to a new, more efficient unit could shrink your yearly electricity costs by anywhere from $100 to $200. This means that your new refrigerator is likely to pay for itself within a decade or so.
On the other hand, there really isn’t much benefit to replacing your refrigerator if it’s less than 10 years old. In this case, you will likely only save around $20 a year at most.
If you do decide to replace your fridge as a way to reduce your electricity costs, you should carefully consider what type you choose. The traditional top-freezer style is by far the most efficient and will use nearly half as much energy as a side-by-side or bottom-freezer refrigerator.
Washing Machine and Dryer
The average family in the United States washes more than 300 laundry loads every year, and all that washing and drying can use a lot of electricity. There is no doubt that new washers and dryers are more energy efficient, but the question is how much energy can they really save.
Outside of air conditioners, clothes dryers typically use more electricity than any other home appliance. Studies show that upgrading to an ENERGY STAR-certified dryer can reduce electricity usage by approximately 20% and save you more than $200 over the life of the new unit. The only issue is that dryers typically only last for 10 to 15 years, which means you’ll really only be saving a few dollars a month. This means that if your dryer is still in good condition, it probably makes more sense to wait until it fails instead of replacing it immediately.
Washing machines are a different story altogether. In this case, upgrading to a new unit can help you save on both your electricity and water bills. This is especially true if you replace an old top-load washer with a new front-load unit. If you choose to go with an ENERGY STAR-certified washer, you can reduce electricity usage by around 25% and save nearly $400 in energy and water costs over the life of the unit.
Air Conditioners and HVAC
This one is a bit trickier. Exactly how much energy your air conditioner uses depends on a number of different factors including climate, the size of the unit and how well insulated your home is. How often you have your AC system professionally maintained is also an important factor. Without proper maintenance, its energy efficiency will quickly start to decrease.
The age of your AC unit can be another extremely important consideration. If your AC was installed before 2010, then there is no doubt that upgrading to a new model will reduce your energy bills by quite a lot. This is because minimum energy efficiency requirements went into effect that year. In this situation, even upgrading to the most basic AC unit available may reduce your electricity costs by around 28%. This has the potential to save you more than $2,000 over the life of the new unit. The savings can be even greater if you choose to go with a unit that has a higher SEER rating.
The only issue is that you’ll also need to spend a few thousand to purchase and install the new unit. As a result, it still typically only makes sense to replace your AC if your current unit is nearing the end of its lifespan.
For the greatest savings, you should consider a variable-speed AC. Instead of always running at 100% power, these units can automatically slow down and operate at a much lower speed. This helps to keep the temperature inside the home more consistent and can drastically reduce energy usage on milder days.
Most homes in the United States still use gas water heaters, but this is something that California is trying to change. As part of the state’s goal to be 100% carbon neutral by 2045, the state is encouraging residents to switch to electric water heaters instead. Unfortunately, most electric water heaters still aren’t that efficient and cost more per month to run than gas units. The only exception is if you upgrade to an electric tankless unit. In this situation, you can potentially reduce energy costs by as much as 40%. The reason is that these units don’t store hot water. Instead, they use an extremely efficient electric heat exchanger that only heats water when it’s needed.
This is yet another area where it depends on age. Flat-screen LCD (liquid crystal display) TVs use far less energy than those old bulky sets we all used to have. For this reason, it is highly recommended that if you have any old non-LCD TVs still in the house, you replace them immediately. When doing so, you should always opt for an LED-backlit TV as these are far and away the most efficient types currently available.
Palm Springs’ Electrical Experts
If you’re looking for ways to reduce your electricity bills, Home Team Electric is here to help. We install a wide range of electrical appliances and fixtures for customers in Palm Springs and throughout the Coachella Valley. Our licensed electricians can help you with any electrical upgrades or wiring needs. We also work on lighting, whole-home surge protectors, smoke detectors, ceiling fans, breakers and fuses. If you own an EV, we can also help make your life more convenient by installing a home EV charging station.
We have been providing outstanding electrical services for more than 15 years, and our dedication to excellence has helped us earn the Morongo Basin Best of the Best award for the past seven years in a row. To learn more about the ways you can improve your home’s energy efficiency, contact Home Team Electric today.