April 24, 2014

Consumers are Letting it be Known – They Want Green Electronics

If you’ve been searching for a greener television, help might soon be at hand.  The consumer electronics industry is listening to research from a September 2008 study:

Going Green: An Examination of the Green Trend and What it Means to Consumers and the CE (consumer electronics) Industry. This study  finds that 89 percent of households want their next television to be more energy efficient.

“Consumers are now beginning to associate terms like recycling and energy efficiency with consumer electronics products,” said Tim Herbert, the Consumer Electronic Association’s  senior director of market research. According to the study, price and features continue to be the primary purchase drivers for CE products, but green attributes will increasingly be a factor. In fact, 53 percent of consumers say they would be willing to pay some type of premium for televisions with green attributes.

Effectively communicating the green attributes of CE products continues to be an obstacle for manufacturers in particular. Though the study indicates high consumer awareness of logos like EPA’s ENERGY STAR®, the absence of a single indicator for other “green” attributes leads to consumer confusion. The study finds consumers desire an easy way to determine if a product meets environmental standards, such as logos and descriptions printed on the product packaging.

“With 74 percent of consumers saying that companies should do more to protect the environment, it’s critical that CE manufacturers and retailers clearly communicate with customers regarding the environmentally-friendly products and programs offered by the industry,” notes Parker Brugge, CEA’s vice president of environmental affairs and industry sustainability.

If the manufacturers are listening, we should soon be able to walk into our local electronics store and easily identify a hi-definition, flat screen, surround sound, environmentally friendly television right away.  But- will it be on sale?

EnergyStar Standards for Dishwashers get Tougher

We have a question on our forums here at appliance.net asking readers to post about their favorite appliance.  Surprisingly, no one mentioned their dishwasher.  Dishwashers save not only time, but energy and water as well. The Department of Energy (DOE) has not rated dishwashers for their water usage until now.  Currently, the EnergyStar rating is based on energy usage.  The change could save American families more than $25 million in energy and water bills in the first 6 months the criteria are in effect.

The criteria will go into effect in two phases. The first set of criteria will apply on August 11, 2009, and the second will apply on July 1, 2011. DOE estimates that by 2012, the new guidelines will save Americans 671 billion Btu and 1.13 billion gallons of water per year. With the new water saving requirement, consumers using ENERGY STAR dishwashers will save more than a gallon of water with each dishwashing cycle. Manufacturers are also eligible to receive tax credits for the production of dishwashers that meet the new ENERGY STAR dishwasher criteria under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008.

In the first phase, ENERGY STAR qualified dishwashers will be required to be at least 48% more efficient than federal energy efficiency standards require, saving the nation over 71 million kWh of energy and more than 500 million gallons of water per year. Stricter federal energy efficiency standards take effect January 1, 2010. In the second phase, ENERGY STAR qualified dishwashers must be at least 13.5% more efficient than the 2010 federal energy efficiency standards, saving the Nation over 95 million kWh of energy and more than 830 million gallons of water per year. The ENERGY STAR criteria for dishwashers were last modified on January 1, 2007.

LG French Door Refrigerator No Longer EnergyStar Rated

From PRNewswire: In coordination with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), LG Electronics USA Inc. has revised the energy ratings on five current refrigerator models.

Refrigerator testing rules used by DOE have been in place since 1979. In light of different applications of these rules in the appliance industry to today’s advanced products, LG has proactively worked with the DOE concerning the test standards.
Based on guidance from the DOE about its interpretation of the testing rules, the energy rating has been changed for five current LG “French Door” models with ice and water dispensers in the door: LFX23961, LFX25971, LFX21971, LMX25981 and LMX21981. For these models, LG is voluntarily suspending its participation in the Energy Star program. Five discontinued LG models also are affected: LFX25950, LFX25960, LFX21960, LFX25980 and LFX21980.
LG Electronics USA’s agreement with the DOE includes a comprehensive program for consumers — an energy-saving modification to previously-purchased refrigerators and cash payments to consumers for incremental energy costs. A similar program will be implemented for comparable Kenmore-brand “TRIO” models designed and manufactured by LG Electronics. This only affects Kenmore French Door models with ice and water dispensing through the door having model numbers starting with 795.
For consumers who have already purchased these models, LG is offering a three-part program:
    1.  LG is offering to modify consumers' refrigerators to make them more
        energy efficient.  LG is making arrangements to visit consumers' homes
        to modify their refrigerator.  This will lower the energy consumption
        over the life of the product and is free of charge.

    2.  Consumers will receive a cash payment for past energy usage.  LG is
        providing a one-time cash payment to cover the difference between the
        new measured energy rating and the amount listed on the original
        EnergyGuide label at the time the product was purchased.

    3.  Consumers will receive cash payments for future energy usage. LG will
        provide a cash payment each year over the expected useful life of the
        product.  These payments will cover the difference between the new
        measured energy rating of the refrigerator with the energy-saving
        modification and the energy usage listed on the EnergyGuide label.
In cooperation with its retailers, LG will attempt to contact all previous purchasers of the affected units to arrange the in-home modification and the payments. Consumers who purchased the affected models can also register to participate in the program and get more information by mail or by calling a special hotline (1-888-848-1266) or online at http://www.LGrefrigeratoroffer.com.
LG Electronics is a long-time partner in the voluntary Energy Star program, and the vast majority of LG appliance products continue with their Energy Star ratings. The company plans to introduce redesigned, Energy Star-rated ice-and-water-dispensing French Door refrigerators in early 2009. In the meantime, steps have been taken to ensure that labeling and marketing materials will reflect the new energy consumption information for the affected models.

Size is Important When Buying a Refrigerator

One of the benefits of replacing an older refrigerator with a new one is knowing that you will be saving energy using the new model.

Jame Duley at the Columbus Dispatch writes:

The energy savings from a more efficient compressor and insulation should pay back the cost of a new model over its lifetime. My refrigerator is about 16 years old. We had a power outage, and my food warmed within eight hours and had to be trashed. My neighbor has a new model, and the insulation kept food in his refrigerator safely below 40 degrees for the same time period.

When selecting a new refrigerator, the size is the most important factor affecting its electricity usage. Select as small a model as will meet your requirements. You can base the size requirements on your existing refrigerator size and how full it typically is, not on the few holiday occasions when you’re making dinner for your extended family.

Don’t buy one that will be consistently too small and then perhaps plan to buy another small backup or keep your old one running in the basement or garage. This will use much more electricity than just buying a larger one initially. Features such as split shelves and pullout shelves that crank up and down can increase the usable interior space with a smaller size.

Models with the freezer on top are most energy-efficient because the cool air naturally drops from the freezer to cool the refrigerator section. Top-freezer models also tend to have the most interior space for a given exterior size, so they’re ideal if your space is limited.

You can figure on about 80 percent of advertised interior volume as actual usable space.

Energy Star Might Not be Such a Star

Most consumers who are shopping for a new, energy efficient appliance know to look for the Blue EnergyStar label.  The Energy Star label alerts shoppers to supposedly very energy efficient appliances.  Many appliances also have a yellow energy guide label.  That label tells shoppers specifically how much energy they can save by buying that particular appliance. 

Buying an efficient appliance really can help save money by saving energy.  Over the past five years, the nation has saved over $61 billion according to the Web site EnergyStar.gov.  That translates to a reduction of greenhouse gases equal to taking half the country’s vehicles off the roads for one year.

There’s a problem though, according to Business Week, consumer and environmental groups say it’s often too easy for companies to win the right to display the star. According to descriptions from the Department of Energy (DOE), which manages the Energy Star appliance program, the coveted logo should ideally appear on dishwashers, refrigerators, and other appliances that score in the top 25% for energy efficiency in their categories. But in 2007 some 60% of all dishwasher models on the market qualified, the DOE says. The year before, 92% of them hit the mark. “If the DOE gives Energy Star to everyone, eventually it’s worthless,” says David B. Goldstein, a director at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

NO INDEPENDENT AUDITS

This past summer the nonprofit Consumers Union complained that some companies were gaming the system. Its testing labs discovered that two refrigerators—one from Samsung and one from LG Electronics—displayed the logos but only measured up if their icemakers were switched off. When the icemakers were on, the machines exceeded the power consumption stated on their Energy Star labels by 65% and by more than 100%, respectively. “Consumers don’t buy a fridge with this sort or feature to leave it off,” says Steven Saltzman, a deputy editor at Consumer Reports. It turned out that when the refrigerator rule was revised in 2001 and 2004, the icemaking feature was rare for this type of model, and there was no requirement to turn it on during the tests. Spokespeople from both LG and Samsung say the companies are in full compliance with DOE standards.

Critics also gripe that there is no independent auditor for appliance testing. The DOE can spot-check products, but it mainly relies on companies to test rivals’ wares and to complain if something looks fishy. Such complaints are rare—and it’s not just consumers who suffer. Federal and state governments require the Energy Star for billions of dollars of purchases each year. Last month, Texas offered a statewide sales-tax-free day for Energy Star goods. If the mark loses credibility, that could weaken official efforts to improve efficiency.

Until this issue is resolved, read those yellow labels carefully, the fact that an appliance carries the Energy Star label no longer seems to mean that it meets the highest standards of efficiency.

Dishwashers Save Time and Water

It’s official, running a fully loaded dishwasher uses less water than washing dishes by hand. If you use an Energy Star rated dishwasher you will save even more. An replacing an older dishwasher with a newer Energy Star rated dishwasher can save you about $30 dollars a year in energy costs too.
According to Frigidairee appliances:
If you still wash your dishes by hand, you’re probably wasting more than just your valuable time. Over an average eleven-year lifespan, Energy Star qualified dishwashers can save 55,000 gallons of water (that’s a lifetime supply of drinking water for more than four people) or $465 in energy and water bills (that’s like getting a 15-year supply of dishwasher detergent).

Here are some additional savings that come with upgrading to an Energy Star dishwasher:

Save Time:
Using an Energy Star qualified dishwasher instead of handwashing will save nearly 10 days of your time each year. So stop scrubbing – just load and go!
Dishwashers today don’t require pre-rinsing of dishes before loading. Pre-rinsing doesn’t necessarily improve cleaning and wastes water. Just scrape off food and liquids – the dishwasher will do the rest.

Save Money:
Cut your energy and water bills by more than $40 per year compared to handwashing.
You can save $465 in energy and water bills over the life of an Energy Star dishwasher compared to washing dishes by hand.

Save Energy:
Use half as much energy as washing by hand.
Fill your dishwasher to full capacity to get maximize the energy used to run it. Most of the energy used by a dishwasher goes to heat water. Since you can’t decrease the amount of water used per cycle, fill your dishwasher to get the most from the energy used to run it.

Save Water:

Use nearly 5,000 gallons less water per year, compared to washing dishes by hand.
Run your dishwasher only on the cycle necessary for the task to conserve water

Reduce Noise:

Energy Star qualified dishwashers run 50% more quietly than 10-year old models.

Help the Environment:
Less energy means less pollution and greenhouse gases in the environment. Less water consumption helps protect our lakes, streams and oceans.
Stay away from the heat-dry, rinse-hold and pre-rinse features and try the air-dry option instead.

You can read more here about choosing a Frigidaire dishwasher.

How to Buy an Air Conditioner

It’s only June, but around here it feels like the height of summer.  Everyone is discussing their air conditioning or the lack of it.  If you are considering purcahsing a new air conditioning unit, we have some advice for you courtesy of the NY Daily News.  You need to sure the unit you purchase is the right one for you. 

The good news is that air conditioner prices have come down substantially in recent years as manufacturing has moved overseas, said P.C. Richard & Son president Gregg Richard.

“A unit that costs $99 today would have cost $149 five years ago,” Richard said.

Expect to pay anywhere from $99 for a small unit to around $1,800 for a jumbo-sized air cooler. Doing some homework before you hit the stores will help you make the wise choice.

How powerful an air conditioner you will need – power is measured in BTUs, or British Thermal Units – should be your first consideration.

A BTU is the amount of heat required to raise one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit. BTUs, which range from 5,000 to 36,000 for room air conditioners, measure the amount of heat a unit can remove from a room per hour. Generally speaking, the bigger your space, the more BTUs you will need – and the more you will pay.

Sizing it right is key. If you get a unit that’s too small you’ll regret it when the mercury soars. But a unit that is too big for a room will cycle on and off too often, using up too much energy while not dehumidifying properly.

To figure out the correct number of BTUs, start by multiplying the square footage of your room by 35, Richard said. Other factors come into play as well.

A kitchen will likely require a unit with more BTUs than a bedroom of the same size because of the heat generated by appliances. Likewise, you might want to crank up the BTUs in a room that gets direct sunlight. For help zeroing in on the right number, go to www.consumerreports.org, which offers a free sizing worksheet.

Energy Star units use at least 10% less energy than conventional models. On average, an Energy Star emblem will add about $40 to the cost of a unit.

To figure out whether your electrical bill savings will justify the bigger price tag, go to getenergysmart.org, the site operated by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, to find out how much you can save by replacing your air conditioner with an Energy Star unit.

“Buy the most energy efficient model you can afford,” advised Consumer Reports deputy home editor Celia Kuperszmid Lehrman.

Other considerations go into choosing the right model. In compiling its recent ratings, Consumer Reports tested factors like how noisy units were and how well they functioned during a brownout.

The Haier ESAD4066, which retails for $240, got Consumer Reports’ top grade among small models. The GE ASMO8LK, for $260, was the highest rated mid-sized model and the GE ASM12AL, for $350, was the cool winner among large air conditioners.

To save yourself a headache later, make sure you know where your unit will be anchored – through a wall or in a window – before making your purchase, and measure the space. If the air conditioner will be going in a window, make note of the type of window it is.

Check the electrical power supply in your room too. Smaller air conditioners will work with a standard 115-volt outlet. Units above 8,000 BTUs will require a dedicated line, though Friedrich makes a 10,000 BTU unit that does not need one, Brief said.

Units from 10,000 to 16,000 BTUs are generally available in both 115- or 230-volt models. Units of 18,000 or more BTUs will need a 230-volt outlet.

How often you will need to buy a new air conditioner depends on the quality of the unit and how often it’s used.

“Many are warrantied for three to five years,” Vandervort said.

Sometimes people will change a unit because it is noisy or when they want to change the décor of a room, Brief said.

Another reason to head to the air conditioner aisles is “when you have an old one and it’s not working efficiently. You may be using considerably more energy than necessary,” Vandervort said. Otherwise, “use it until it doesn’t work any longer.”

 

Tips for Saving Money and Energy Around the House

Looking for ways to save money? Look no further than your kitchen. The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) offers these simple energy savings tips to consumers looking for ways to cut energy bills this summer.

The energy consumed by home appliances has dropped sharply since 2000.
Refrigerators, dishwashers and clothes washers combined account for a 43% decrease in
energy consumption since 2000. Replacing an eight year old refrigerator, dishwasher and
clothes washer with new appliances of average efficiency will save consumers about
$95.00 per year in energy bills. Replacing an eight year old clothes washer will save
more than $60.00 in electricity costs and nearly 5,000 gallons of water per year.
Additional savings can be obtained by purchasing Energy Star appliances.

Energy savings can also be obtained by following these easy tips:

• If you are replacing your refrigerator, do not use the old refrigerator as a second
refrigerator. This will not yield energy savings. Properly recycle the appliance.
To find recycling options in your area, call 1-800-YES-1-CAN.

• Allow hot foods to cool before placing them in the refrigerator; and always cover
foods that may release moisture in the refrigerator.

• Limit opening the refrigerator and freezer doors. Label foods or use clear food
storage bags to easily identify foods.

• Scrape, but do not pre-rinse dishes before putting them in the dishwasher.
Dishwashers do a great job of cleaning soiled dishes.

• Take advantage of your dishwasher’s “eco” option that reduces water use, or use a
no-heat air dry feature.

• Use load size settings- if you are washing a small load of clothing, be sure to
change the load setting. Use cold water settings whenever possible.

• Always clean the lint filter on the clothes dryer after each use. A clogged filter
will reduce dryer performance.