Division of Energy fact sheet
Division of Energy Director: Craig Redmon

When buying an appliance, you pay more than just the selling price; you commit yourself to paying the cost of running the appliance for as long as you own it. These energy costs can add up quickly.

For example, running a refrigerator 15 to 20 years costs two to three times as much as the initial purchase price of the unit; and the 100-watt light bulb you bought for 50 cents will cost about $6 in electricity over its short life.

Life-cycle costing

The sum of the purchase price and the energy cost of running an appliance over its lifetime is called its life-cycle cost. The life-cycle costs of energy-efficient appliances are lower than those of average models.

EnergyGuide Labels

When you shop for a major appliance, look for the yellow and black EnergyGuide labels that can help you choose the most efficient model you can afford.

Appliance labeling was mandated by Congress as part of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975. Labels must be displayed on seven types of major appliances. These seven major appliances account for about 73 percent of all energy consumed in American homes. New appliance labeling rules, passed in 1994 by the Federal Trade Commission to make energy-usage information easier to understand, began showing up on appliances on July 1, 1995.

The biggest change in the labeling of refrigerators, refrigerator/freezers, freezers, dishwashers, clothes washers and water heaters is a switch in the comparison base from an estimated annual operating cost of the appliance to its annual energy usage in kilowatt hours of electricity or therms of natural gas. Cost information will still be provided.

For Missouri residents in 1993, the average price for electricity was 7.3 cents/kWh and for natural gas was 53.5 cents/therm.

Federal law requires that EnergyGuide labels be placed on all new refrigerators, freezers, water heaters, dishwashers, clothes washers, room and central air conditioners and heat pumps.

For additional information, you may contact the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy or the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers for up-to-date information on appliance efficiency.


ENERGY STAR-labeled products use less energy than other products, save you money on utility bills, and help protect the environment. Look for the ENERGY STAR label on quality household appliances, home electronics, office equipment, heating and cooling equipment, windows, residential light fixtures, and more.

Selecting a Refrigerator/Freezer

The energy usage by refrigerators and freezers has decreased, but they are still among the largest energy users in the home. In 1990 and 1993, National Appliance Efficiency Standards specified the maximum electricity consumption of refrigerators according to volume and features.

When shopping for a new refrigerator or freezer, shop around using the EnergyGuide labels. There is still a wide variation in energy usage, and your choice of style and features will have and effect on energy usage. Side-by-side models use more energy. Manual defrost models often use half as much energy as automatic defrost models but are not widely available in large sizes. If you allow frost to build up, the refrigerator will rapidly lose efficiency. Features such as automatic icemakers and through-the-door ice and water dispensers can increase energy consumption. Usually, the larger the model, the greater the energy usage.

As a rule of thumb, you need eight cubic feet of refrigerator space for a family of two, plus one cubic foot for each additional person. Add two cubic feet if you entertain a great deal. Two cubic feet per person is usually required in freezer space.

Operating Hints

Selecting a Washing Machine and Dryer

Like dishwashers, most of the energy used by washing machines is for heating water. Water heating accounts for about 90 percent of total energy use. Most washing machines use from 30 to 40 gallons of water for a complete wash cycle. The energy savings for reducing the water temperature are significant.

Model-to-model, the operation of dryers is very similar. The big choice is which type of fuel - electric or gas. In terms of energy use, gas dryers are less expensive to operate. Electric ignition is now required for all new gas dryers.

Operating Hints



Selecting a Dishwasher

Look for these energy-saving features when buying a new dishwasher:

Operating Hints

Additional Resources

American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy
1001 Connecticut Ave., NW, Suite 535
Washington, D.C. 20202
Phone: 202-429-8873

Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers
20 North Wacker Dr.
Chicago, IL 60606
Phone: 312-984-5800