Are energy efficient appliances worth the investment? We deep dive into the cost analysis. Photo of home appliances sitting in a junkyard depicted in an oil painting.

Page Contents

Advertiser Disclosure: At, our number one goal is to help you make better energy decisions. We adhere to strict editorial guidelines, however this post may include references to products offered from our partners.

We’ve all been there… wandering down the home appliance aisle at Home Depot or Lowes, wondering what’s with all of these Energy STAR and Energy Guide labels?

They’re found on newer and slightly more expensive models. Many of us are scratching our heads, asking, “are energy-efficient appliances worth the extra investment?”

The short answer is yes if you know what you’re looking for. While they may cost a bit more upfront compared to traditional models, they are designed to use less energy daily, resulting in lower utility bills, reduced impact on the planet, and fewer greenhouse gas emissions (cleaner air).

Keep reading to see which appliances use the most energy and how to shop for more efficient alternatives available on the market today so you can save thousands each year!

So, how do you identify an energy-efficient appliance in the store?

The federal government requires by law for most major appliances to display an ENERGY GUIDE label. These are the bright yellow labels you are familiar with seeing:

energy efficient appliances

However, only some of these appliances are efficient.

What the Energy Guide label will tell you is:

  • The brand, model number, and size of the appliance.
  • Estimated yearly operating cost (based on the national average cost of electricity) and the range of operating costs for similar models.
  • The ENERGY STAR logo (if applicable) indicates that this model meets strict criteria for energy efficiency.
  • Estimated yearly electricity consumption.
  • Key features of the appliance and the similar models that make up the cost comparison range.

The appliances that are the most energy-efficient in their category will have a bright blue label known as the Energy STAR label:

energy star label

How Does EPA Choose which Products Earn the Label?

Products can earn the ENERGY STAR label by meeting the energy efficiency requirements outlined in ENERGY STAR product specifications. The Environmental Protection Agency’s establishment of these specifications is based on the following fundamental principles:

  • Product categories must contribute significant energy savings nationwide.
  • Certified products must meet consumers’ features and performance standards and increase energy efficiency.
  • Energy efficiency can be achieved through broadly available, non-proprietary technologies offered by more than one manufacturer. This means that a specific energy-saving feature you like is likely available across multiple brands.
  • Product energy consumption and performance can be measured and verified with testing.
  • Labeling would effectively differentiate products and be visible to purchasers.
  • If the certified product costs more than a conventional, less-efficient counterpart, purchasers will recover their investment in increased energy efficiency through utility bill savings within a reasonable period of time.
  • This last bullet is a biggie. You are guaranteed to recoup money by buying an ENERGY STAR certified appliance compared to other models. A win-win for your budget and the planet.

    Appliances that contribute most to your electricity bill

    Here are the most significant opportunities to save on energy, your monthly bill and reduce your environmental impact:

    A/C Unit

    A central unit uses 15,000 watts of power per hour. If you are like the average American who pays 16.09 cents per kilowatt-hour, then you would be paying over $2.40 each hour. That’s a lot for simply running the air conditioner!

    This is one of the most energy-consuming items in a typical household and why you should always look for energy-efficient models whenever possible.

    How much could you save?

    The average new air conditioning system that carries the ENERGY STAR label can save over $2,000 in energy costs over its lifetime.

    Laundry Washing Machine

    With the average American family washing over 300 loads of laundry each year, an energy-efficient washing machine is vital. Making the right choice is the perfect way to lower your electric and water bills, a 2-for-1 combo.

    Clothes washers certified by Energy Star will use about 25% less energy and 33% less water than regular washers. Over 50 Energy Star-certified washing machines are available from several different manufacturers, with LG as the most dominant brand with 24 certified models to choose from.

    How much could you save?

    According to Energy Star, purchasing a certified washing machine will save you around $370 in energy costs over the product’s lifetime, which is between 11 and 14 years. You can purchase an Energy Star-certified washing machine for anywhere between $649.99 to $3,149.99.

    Clothes Dryer

    Also, using 4,000 watts/hour on average, your clothes dryer is an energy hog. If you do multiple loads of laundry each day, this can add more than a dollar per day to your energy bill.

    To reduce your costs, ensure you have a high-efficiency dryer with sensors that shut off automatically when clothes dry. Try drying some clothes outside on clear days or turning down the heating temperature setting in the summer.

    How much could you save?

    An Energy Star-certified clothes dryer uses 20% less energy than a standard model. It can save up to $25 in energy costs each year. The purchase cost of an updated dryer is higher, so you will want to weigh the energy savings against the added costs of the energy-efficient model.

    Water Heater

    Your water heater uses 4,000 watts of electricity per hour to provide hot water to your home for showers, laundry, washing dishes, and more. That means if your electricity rate is 10 cents/kWh, it costs you 40 cents per hour to run.

    This may seem like a little, but it can add up. To reduce cost, lower the temperature setting on the water heater, wash clothes and dishes with cold water, and take shorter showers. You can also consider an energy-efficient water heater which will save you lots of money in the long run.

    How much could you save?

    According to Energy Star, if you upgrade to an Energy Star-certified electric water heater with a 0.93 EF rating, you can reduce your annual energy cost by $60 – $90.

    Space Heaters

    These small appliances can consume a lot of electricity. The average space heater uses around 1,500 watts per hour and, if left on regularly, can add a couple of dollars daily to your monthly bill.

    Do this instead…

    Address the underlying issue instead of using a space heater. You might need additional insulation in the room you’re trying to heat, or you can block drafts by sealing around doors and windows.

    Most local insulation, HVAC, and A/C repair companies will come to your house and give you a free audit to identify where the most significant leaks in energy efficiency are. This is the best way to save in the long run.

    Heat Pump

    Heat pumps can be more affordable than baseboard heating, but it’s essential to ensure you’re using the right pump for your home and climate. Shutting off heat or cooling to rooms that aren’t being used will also help keep your energy costs down.

    How much could you save?

    Remember that home heating is one of the most costly contributors to your electricity bill, and heat pumps are no exception. A heat pump uses about 15,000 watts of power, translating to a cost of $1.50 an hour.


    Your refrigerator uses about 1,000 watts of power per hour, costing 10 cents per hour. While you can’t unplug your refrigerator to reduce energy usage, you can take other steps.

    Ensure the seal is tight on the door to prevent cold air from escaping. Also, avoid opening the refrigerator more than necessary, and make sure it’s not in direct sunlight, as this will add extra heat. Finally, clean your refrigerator’s coils regularly to help reduce energy costs.

    How much could you save?

    An Energy Star-certified refrigerator uses 15% less energy than a standard model. This reduces your energy costs by up to $75 each year. According to Energy Star, a new certified refrigerator will save money over the product’s average 12-year lifespan. It will save you about $1000 in total energy expenditures.

    Shop around and pay attention to ENERGY STAR labels

    By investing in energy-efficient appliances, you will be able to save money on your utility bills and help protect the environment by reducing your carbon footprint.

    Remember, look for the Energy-Star Labeled appliances. One of the rules the government places on these appliances is you are guaranteed to recover your investment in increased energy efficiency through utility bill savings within a reasonable period of time.

    Before making a purchase, do some research and compare products from different brands to find the one that fits your needs and budget.