When comparison shopping for refrigerators, most of us do not stop to think that we will pay two or three times more for the energy to run the refrigerator over its lifetime than we shell out for the appliance itself.
The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy points out in a new book, "Consumer Guide to Home Energy Savings," that an inexpensive, but less efficient appliance will end up costing more in the long run than a more expensive energy- efficient one -- and will cause more damage to the environment. The guide provides data and work sheets to calculate how much a new appliance will really cost over its lifetime. Consumers who choose more energy-efficient appliances will help protect the environment and prevent the United States from becoming dependent on foreign oil supplies, the council says.
The cost of energy for heating, cooling, lighting, cooking and a myriad of appliances is a major chunk of American families' budgets. Howard S. Geller, associate director of the council, estimates that most families can reduce that bill one-third to one-half by taking a series of measures ranging from replacing the shower head to buying that new, energy-efficient refrigerator.The book replaces and expands on the council's popular pamphlet listing the most energy-efficient home appliances on the market. In addition to the latest appliance listings, the book, which will be updated every year, includes explanations and diagrams about weatherization, heating and cooling systems and lighting.
The book includes many steps homeowners can take short of replacing appliances, such as modifying old furnaces, which are often too large for the houses they heat, and using compact fluorescent light bulbs, which use less energy and last 10 times as long as incandescent bulbs.
It lists the type of appliances that consume the most energy -- including heated water beds and electric blankets -- and suggestions about how to reduce energy waste. A water bed heater consumes between 20 and 500 kilowatt hours per year, the book says. That can be reduced 30 percent by keeping the bed covered with a comforter when it is not in use and another 10 percent by insulating the bed.
"Consumer Guide to Home Energy Savings" also tells where many energy-saving devices can be obtained. The book is available in bookstores for $6.95.