Appliances consume lots of energy — often as much as one-third of an average household's entire energy budget. The main environmental impacts of appliances include:
Energy use, which can lead to the emission of greenhouse gases and other pollutants.
Water use, both the water required for operation and the effluent coming out of the appliance.
The release of ozone-depleting substances and greenhouse gases, particularly when older appliances are improperly handled after disposal.
Buying Guide: What to look for
Always opt for ENERGY STAR qualified appliances when possible.
For washers, go for “high efficiency” models. For dryers, look for an automatic shut off feature.
For refrigerator/freezer combos, choose top-mounted freezer models without through-the-door ice dispensers.
Buying Guide: What to avoid
Avoid older, used appliances — they are less efficient and may contain environmentally harmful chemicals.
Avoid top-loading washers that are not labeled “high efficiency.”
Avoid bottom-mounted, side-by-side, or French door refrigerator/freezer configurations.
Avoid hand-washing dishes — instead, use an efficient dishwasher to save time, money, energy
Key impacts in the environmental lifecycle of appliances include the energy and water consumed over their lifetime and hazardous releases of chemicals either at the power source or at the product's end of life. Based on data from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), major home appliances account for nearly one third of the nation's residential energy consumption (equivalent to about 10% of total energy consumption).
The information available to assess the energy and water impacts of different types of appliances varies by sub-category. In sub-categories like dishwashers and refrigerators, average annual energy consumption is used to characterize energy impacts. In other sub-categories, various measures of appliance efficiency are used.
GoodGuide uses the following key indicators for different appliance types:
Room Air Conditioners — Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) is the main indicator of energy impacts. EER is the ratio of the cooling effect measured in BTU per hour divided by electrical energy input measured in Watts. The higher the EER, the more efficient the AC unit.
Dishwashers — kWh/year is the main indicator of energy impacts.
Refrigerators and Freezers — kWh/year is the main indicator for energy impacts. Fridges may also have energy-intensive features such as through-the-door ice dispensers or inefficient refrigerator/freezer configurations.
Clothes Washers — Modified Energy Factor (MEF) is the main indicator for energy impacts. MEF is an energy efficiency measure based on the energy needed to run the washer and heat the water. The higher the MEF, the more efficient the washer. Washer types are also indicative of potential energy impacts – “High Efficiency (HE)” washers use less energy than conventional, top-loading washers.
Clothes Dryers — Energy Factor (EF) is the main indicator for energy impacts. EF is a measure of energy needed to run the dryer. The higher the EF, the more efficient the dryer. Dryers may also have energy-saving features such as moisture control/automatic shut off.
Environment scores are assigned to appliances by combining product-level environmental indicators (weighted at 75%) with company-level environmental indicators (weighted at 25%). Product-level scores incorporate the most significant aspects of the overall life cycle impacts of a product, but company-level scores are included to address product-level data gaps.