hould I consider energy-efficient appliances if I am on a tight remodeling budget?
Having a tight remodeling budget is always a difficult challenge; adding the need to purchase major appliances makes it even more difficult, especially when considering energy-efficient options. We all want to conserve energy and limit the amount of water we consume, so the obvious choice would be purchasing the most energy-efficient appliances on the market. However, energy-efficiency comes with higher up-front costs.
A tightly budgeted remodeling project needs to balance function over design, needs over wants, and well-thought-out decisions over impulse purchases. When considering appliances, this same balance needs to be considered. Do you spend a little more now and save later, or spend less now and have higher energy and water bills later?
On average most families spend about $2,000 to $3,000 each year on energy costs for their kitchen appliances, washers and dryers, and HVAC systems alone. With payback periods more often measured in years than months, homeowners need to pay careful attention to the energy efficiency ratings, consumer reports and customer reviews of the appliances they are considering.
The easiest way to compare each type of appliance is to read each model's black and yellow Energy Guide label, which includes a sliding scale that shows the appliance's estimated annual operating cost within the range of costs of similar models. Energy Guide labels are part of the federal government's Energy Star program, which helps consumers choose products that reduce operating costs and greenhouse gas emissions.
Rebate and recycling programs offered by your local utility company, combined with government tax incentives, can also help soften the upfront costs of new energy-efficient appliances. New appliances that save water, as well as energy, can add to the cost-savings equation, especially in New York City, where the cost of water and sewer charges can sometimes be higher than your monthly electric bill.
The decision to consider energy efficient appliances may not be a difficult one if you stay on track and choose efficiency over design. Many appliances are available with high energy efficiency ratings, but do not have all the latest gadgets and features of their more expensive counterparts. Although it is great to have a television in the door of your refrigerator, and a washing machine that has an extra door in case you forget to throw in your socks, is not necessary for an appliance to achieve an Energy Star rating.
When selecting appliances for your remodel, whether for a tight or unlimited budget, it is important to research your options. Running out and buying the cheapest or most expensive appliance, or the first thing you see, is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. We cannot stress enough the importance of doing your homework and consulting with a knowledgeable appliance sales person that understands your needs and can work within your budget to find the best solutions. If you don't have time, at least look for the Energy Star label first and then select by price. It is the easiest way for consumers to buy smart.
Every appliance comes with two price tags; the cost of the appliance and the cost to operate and maintain it each month. Energy Star qualified appliances incorporate advanced technologies and use 10 to 50 percent less energy than standard appliances. From refrigerators to clothes washers, Energy Star qualified appliances save energy, save money, and help reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and air pollutants at the source.
Energy Star qualified appliances often outperform standard appliances due to improved design and advanced technologies. For instance, some Energy Star qualified appliances include features that decrease operating noise, while others include technologies that reduce water use. Refrigerators that are Energy Star qualified feature high-efficiency compressors, improved insulation, and more precise temperature and defrost mechanisms. Energy Star qualified freezers use at least 10 percent less energy than required by current federal standards.
In summation, if you plan on living in your remodeled home for at least the next 10 to 15 years, it is a smart decision to purchase energy-efficient appliances. The energy and water savings, combined with the enjoyment of using appliances that operate quietly and efficiently are worth the investment. If your budget is a concern, visit your local appliance showroom and speak with a knowledgeable sales person who can offer you energy-efficient options, which may include 0% or low interest financing options. This may solve both your energy concerns, as well as your remodeling budget.