When shopping for appliances, have you ever noticed the bright yellow sticker on the front of the box? How closely do you pay attention to it? This is the EnergyGuide label and it can tell you all you need to know about the operating costs of your appliance – as long as you know how to read it.
Required by federal law in 1980, the EnergyGuide label has been added to most large appliances to better inform consumers of the lifetime operating cost of an appliance. Appliances like clothes dryers, dehumidifiers, humidifiers, ovens, and ranges do not include the EnergyGuide label though.
It’s important to know what you should be looking for when reading an EnergyGuide label, so we have put together this helpful explainer of the EnergyGuide label below:
Make/Model: In the upper right-hand area of the label, you will find the make and model of the appliance. Here, you will also find the size of the appliance.
Key Features: In the upper left-hand area of the label, a list of features that are relevant to the appliance’s operating costs are printed to help you understand why an appliance might use more than or less than other appliances you’re considering.
Estimated Yearly Operating Cost: The operating cost is based on the appliance’s energy usage, not on expected maintenance or other costs. Simply, the estimated yearly electricity use of the device is multiplied by the national average cost of electricity. Since few people actually pay the national average price per kWh, this number is not very helpful if you want to find an accurate projection of your costs associated with the appliance. To determine what you’ll pay, find the Estimated Yearly Electricity Use of the appliance, which is usually in the bottom third of the label. Here you will find the appliance’s usage in kilowatt hours. Look at your electricity bill and find your total rate per kilowatt hour and multiply that by the appliance’s estimated usage. This will give you a more accurate idea of the price you’ll pay for electricity each year as a result of purchasing this appliance.
Cost Range of Similar Models: You can easily understand an appliance’s relative energy efficiency by comparing it to other similar appliances. Ideally, you want to look for appliances that are on the lower end (far left) of the cost range. Keep in mind, this is the range for appliances with the features listed in the Key Features above. This is also for similarly sized appliances. This means that you should not compare a 42 Inch LED TV’s position on the cost range to that of a 42 Inch Plasma TV. Nor should you compare a 42 Inch LED TV to a 56 Inch LED TV. This seems obvious, but it can be confusing when you are looking at multiple EnergyGuides trying to find the most efficient appliance.
ENERGY STAR: The easiest way to know if you are buying an energy efficient appliance is to look for the ENERGY STAR logo. ENERGY STAR-rated products meet a set of energy efficiency standards. Appliances receive their ENERGY STAR certification by the United States Environmental Protection Agency if they help consumers save money and help protect the climate through superior energy efficiency. So when in doubt, look for the ENERGY STAR label on the EnergyGuide and you can be assured you’re getting an energy efficient appliance.