CenterPoint Home Energy Program


Appliances

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the average household spends over $2,100 per year on energy bills. Appliances are significant ongoing users of energy and potable water. Federal standards for some appliances are helping to ensure that certain new appliances will be far more efficient than models they are replacing, but some manufacturers offer products that significantly exceed federal standards. Many of the most efficient appliances come from Europe, where energy is more expensive than in North America. Energy Star appliances help homeowners save up to 30 percent annually. Energy Star requires that an appliance meet a certain minimum standard, 15 percent better than the industry is usually the norm.

Washing Machines

Front loaders use less water and energy to heat the water. With the automatic water controls, stains and soap residue are removed through a high-pressure spray. They use much less water than the typical American top-loader, are gentler on the clothes, use less detergent, wash more effectively, and—because they spin faster—remove more of the moisture from a load of laundry, which reduces the amount of energy needed for drying. Although front load washers are more expensive than standard top-loaders, the extra cost will be recovered by detergent savings alone—even before the water savings, energy savings (by using less hot water and reducing drying time), and wear-and-tear on clothing are factored in. Many washers offer steam options that reduce both the use of water and energy but also less energy for the drying cycle.

Dishwashers

Replacing dishwashers manufactured before 1994 with Energy Star models can save you up to 235 percent. Seek out an efficient dishwasher that meets the convenience and feature requirements—and don't use energy-guzzling features, such as heat drying, when it isn't necessary. No-heat drying options allow you to let the dishes air dry. Most models have a water-saving cycle that should be used for lightly soiled dishes or partial loads (though it usually makes the most sense to wash only full loads). Note that hand-washing dishes may use more water and energy than a dishwasher!

Refrigerators

Your refrigerator uses more electricity than any other kitchen appliance. Driven by national standards, the energy efficiency of refrigerators has improved greatly over the past few decades. If your refrigerator is over 10 years old, buying a new can be as much as 50% more efficient. New refrigerators have better insulation, more efficient compressors, and improved temperature and defrost controls. Unfortunately, a common practice when buying a new refrigerator is to keep the older one for storing beer and soda; this practice should be avoided. In general, refrigerators in the 16- to 20-cubic-foot range tend to be most efficient (because these are the most popular sizes, this is where manufacturers invest the most R&D funding), as are those with freezers on top or bottom instead of side-by-side. Avoid extra convenience features like ice-makers unless they'll be used frequently.

Gas Range

For ranges and cooktops, electric elements should be preferred over gas simply to avoid the toxic byproducts of gas combustion in the house. If a gas appliance is used, an effective vent-hood exhaust (rather than a system that simply filters and recirculates the air) should be used whenever the burners are on. Select a range-hood fan that operates quietly, to increase the likelihood that it will be used by occupants. Halogen electric elements provide the instant-on, instant-off performance that many cooks seek in a gas range.

Most gas ovens use a significant amount of electricity because they have a glow-bar that is on continuously in order to reignite the gas flame immediately if it is blown out somehow. In fact, a microwave oven can use less electricity to bake a potato than a gas oven! While microwaves are a more efficient way to cook, there are some concerns about the possible leakage of microwaves if the door seals aren't perfect.

Water Heaters

Water heaters account for 15 percent or more of an average household's annual energy costs and half of that is used in bathrooms. Water heaters are given an energy factor (EF) rating. The EF rating is a measure of units of hot water produced to units of fuel consumed in a typical day. The higher the EF rating, the more efficient the heater is. The EF rating takes into account the loss as water cycles through the unit and the recovery rate. Listed below are some of the more popular forms of domestic hot water production for our climate:

Conventional Water Heaters

Use electric, gas or oil as the fuel source. The heat generated by the fuel source warms the entire tank of stored water. Electrical water heaters may be more efficient than gas but inefficiencies in the power grid could eliminate the advantage.

Tankless Water Heaters

Heat water directly without the use of a storage tank. When a hot water tap is turned on, cold water travels through a pipe into the unit. Either a gas burner or an electric element heats the water. As a result, tankless water heaters deliver a constant supply of hot water. You don't need to wait for a storage tank to fill up with enough hot water. However, a tankless water heater's output limits the flow rate. For homes that use 41 gallons or less of hot water daily, demand water heaters can be 24%–34% more energy efficient than conventional storage tank water heaters. They can be 8%–14% more energy efficient for homes that use a lot of hot water -- around 86 gallons per day. You can achieve even greater energy savings of 27%–50% if you install a demand water heater at each hot water outlet. ENERGY STAR® estimates that a typical family can save $100 or more per year with an ENERGY STAR qualified tankless water heater.

Solar water heaters

Harnessing energy from the sun to heat water, also called solar domestic hot water systems, can be a cost-effective way to generate hot water for your home. They can be used in any climate, and the fuel they use – sunshine, is free. Solar water heating systems include storage tanks and solar collectors. There are two types of solar water heating systems: active, which have circulating pumps and controls, and passive, which don't.

Water Heater Suppliers

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