Products That Make a Difference for the Environment and Your Wallet

Peter Palmieri
D&R International, ENERGY STAR Contractor

As energy costs rise, consumers must find ways to reduce their energy consumption to not only save money, but to also protect the environment by reducing air pollution and greenhouse gases caused by burning fossil fuels. Using appliances less frequently can cut energy usage or consumers can switch to energy efficient appliances without making the sacrifice. For example, with ENERGY STAR qualified clothes washers, dishwashers and refrigerators, homeowners can save energy and money while helping to protect our environment.

For a product to earn the ENERGY STAR seal, it must meet strict energy efficiency criteria set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or the U.S. Department of Energy. Qualified appliances incorporate advanced technologies that use 10–50% less energy and water than standard models. For example, qualified refrigerators are at least fifteen percent more efficient than the minimum federal efficiency standard. A few other examples have been provided below, but it is important to do your own research as a consumer before purchasing any appliance.

Clothes Washer: By choosing a qualified clothes washer over a standard model, a Minnesota consumer can save $430 on his or her utility bills over the life of the washer. These models use 50% less energy and 40% less water than conventional models. Qualified washers are also typically packaged with other benefits such as larger capacities, higher spin speeds, and advanced wash systems that result shorter drying time as well as less wear and tear on clothes.

Dishwashers: Qualified dishwashers are at least 25% more efficient than new conventional models and will save the average Minnesota consumers $100 on utility bills over the product lifetime. Compared to washing dishes by hand with running water, using an ENERGY STAR qualified dishwasher will also save nearly 5,000 gallons of water per year. Over the nine-year life of the dishwasher, that’s enough water to fill two backyard swimming pools.

Refrigerator: If you are looking for other ways to save energy—and money—your refrigerator may be the answer. Refrigerators manufactured prior to 1993 can cost up to $125 a year to run, however operating a qualified refrigerator can save up to $55 a year on energy bills. The Department of Energy recently developed the Refrigerator Retirement Savings Calculator to educate consumers on how much energy they can potentially save by switching to a refrigerator that has earned the ENERGY STAR. This consumer-friendly tool also provides information on how to recycle a refrigerator and links to offers on ENERGY STAR qualified refrigerators. It can be found at

Other products: A number of other products have earned the ENERGY STAR rating, including room air conditioners and compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). Qualified CFLs use 66% less energy than a standard incandescent bulb and last up to ten times longer. Replacing a 100-watt incandescent with a 25-watt CFL can save you an average of $60 in energy costs over the life of the bulb and provides equivalent light output.

products that make a difference

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