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Retailers, consumers and prices

The true cost of appliances

June 4, 2008

If you think that 10-year-old refrigerator is saving you money, think again.

As the slumping U.S. housing market depresses demand for refrigerators and washers, manufacturers are looking to get the word out that newer appliances can save substantial amounts of energy.

The Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, a group of appliance makers and suppliers, has drafted a report that quantifies the energy savings of some products.

Since 2000, refrigerators, dishwashers and washing machines have accounted for a 43 percent decrease in energy consumption, the group says.

Improvements in technology and design have made newer appliances more efficient. For example, washing machines now offer shorter wash cycles, while newer dishwashers have air drying options that cut energy use.

Front-loading washing machines (such as the one pictured) require less water and energy to operate. Energy consumed by clothes washers has fallen 63 percent since 2000, according to the data.

Another snippet: the average refrigerator sold today uses less energy than a 60-watt light bulb that runs 24 hours a day. More efficient compressors and better insulation help explain why.

“This data shows that replacing older appliances can make a huge impact in a family’s energy budget,” AHAM President Joseph McGuire said.

Still, the savings do have a cost. Some front-load washers cost more than $1,000.

Would you upgrade your older appliances to save energy?

Photo: LG Electronics

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