Appliances with Low Life-Cycle Costs

Claudette Reichel  |  6/25/2008 10:21:19 PM

Figure 1, EnergyGuide Label

Look for ENERGY STAR appliances and compare Energy Guide labels to invest in appliances with a low life-cycle cost. In addition to saving money on operating costs, energy-efficient appliances give off less waste heat than standard models, keeping the room cooler and lowering air conditioning needs and costs.  (Figure 1, EnergyGuide Label)

Swimming pool pump: Swimming pool pumping costs can total up to 20% of total electricity use. A way to reduce this expense is to use an oversized cartridge filter and larger (2-inch) piping with a pump no larger than 1/2 horsepower per 10,000 gallons of pool volume. Set the pump on a timer to operate no more than 6 hours a day in summer and 3 hours a day in winter. Also consider photovoltaic technology for pool pumping.

Water heating: Energy costs for water heating are often close to the cost of cooling or heating a southern home, so it pays to invest in a highly energy-efficient water heater. Compare EnergyGuide labels and Energy Factor (EF) ratings (the higher, the better). A centrally located water heater and pipe insulation will reduce standby losses (energy lost from heated water sitting in the pipes). Alternative water heater systems that can further reduce water heating energy costs include:

Integrated with geothermal heat pump. A geothermal heat pump for space heating and cooling can provide hot water efficiently, taking advantage of the energy stored underground. It can be designed to heat water on demand or with a heat recovery system to preheat water with its waste heat.

Heat Recovery Unit. A heat recovery unit captures the waste heat from an air conditioner or heat pump compressor to preheat water during the cooling season. It is most beneficial when the air conditioner runs often and the cooling season is long.

Passive solar water heater. Solar water heating can be cost effective especially for households that use a large amount of hot water. Check into tax credits for solar technologies that may offset some of the purchase costs. A passive system includes a solar collector and storage tank, but no pump. Installed costs generally range from $1,500 – $3,500; do-it-yourself systems can cost less than $1,000. Choose models that are certified by either the Solar Ratings and Certification Corporation (SRCC) or the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC).

Heat pump water heater. A heat pump water heater extracts heat from the air to heat water at about twice the efficiency of an electric water heater. Although expensive, they can be cost effective for big water users. As they operate, they also provide some dehumidification and cooling — a summer benefit, but winter liability. As a result, they may be best located in a laundry room or garage.

Tankless water heaters provide hot water when needed without storage, so standby losses are greatly reduced. A small, under sink model could provide quick and unlimited hot water to a location far from the primary water heater. Whole house units can heat large quantities of water and can have features that maintain the desired temperature with changing flow rates. Such models may cost more, but last up to twice as long as a tank water heater.

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