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Buy Energy Star appliances whenever possible. See for information and a list of Energy Star appliances, which use significantly less energy.

Do a cost analysis of what your appliance will cost OVER ITS LIFETIME, not just in the initial cost. Appliances cost a lot to operate, so this cost should be considered when you make a purchase. Below is the story of a Durham resident who recently replaced a washing machine.

A washing machine story

Our washing machine died in early January, 2006, so I went to Sears in Durham to look at new washing machines.

Here is what I discovered. The cheapest top-loading machine was $299.99, or $320.99 with tax. It uses 582 kwh of electricity per year, according to the label. (Natural gas will be a little cheaper. I don't have the figures on natural gas use, however.) At $0.085 per kwh, the energy cost is $49.47 per year. (This is based on the average use of 8 loads per week.) It also uses about 14,481 gallons of water per year. In Durham, the water and sewer rate is $4.23 per ccf, and one ccf is 748.05 gallons. So the water cost per year is $81.89. Total operating cost is $131.36 per year. The total cost of the machine plus operation over ten years is $1,634.55.

A comparable front-loading Energy Star washer uses 170 kwh of electricity per year and 5,408 gallons of water. The total operating cost is therefore $45.03 per year. The machine is a lot more expensive: $799.99, or $855.99 with tax. BUT, when you add the total cost of the machine and operation over ten years, it is $1,306.30, significantly less than the cheaper machine. And this is BEFORE factoring in the rebate they were offering, which will make the Energy Star washer even cheaper!

I bought the Energy Star washer. I discovered that it spins the clothes much more dry than a top-loading machine, so my clothes spend 1/3 less time in the dryer. This saves me money, too. I did some research and discovered that the average dryer uses 828 kwh of electricity per year. Saving 1/3 of this, or 276 kwh per year, saves me another $23.46 per year, or $234.60 over ten years.

In addition to the financial benefit, there are other benefits to the new washer. The main benefit is that I am reducing my family's contribution to global warming by using less energy. Other minor advantages: I have a new surface on top of my washer on which to fold clothes, and my friends with front-loader washers tell me there is less wear and tear on fabric, so clothes last longer.