The bright side of shopping Energy Star

Leaves are changing colours, nights are a little bit chilly, and the super organized among us are pulling out shopping lists in preparation for sales and perhaps even fulfilling holiday wish lists. It’s also that time of year where we turn off our air conditioners - and turn on the furnace, and cook up some warm comfort food.

On the home front, some of us may have just moved into a brand new home, and others may be thinking of taking on some renovations.

Whatever the case, be sure to make ENERGY STAR a consideration factor when it comes to your search for new appliances.

What is ENERGY STAR®?

ENERGY STAR Canada is a partnership of industry and the Government of Canada that recognizes energy-efficient products while also making them identifiable and available to Canadian consumers. Products, homes, buildings, and even workplaces may all qualify for an ENERGY STAR certification. This certification can often be identified by the cyan-blue and white (or black and white) logo on marketing materials or packaging. Consumers can also look up certified products using the ENERGY STAR Product Finder.

For a product to receive an ENERGY STAR rating, it must be tested and found to meet or exceed technical specifications on energy efficiency and performance. Natural Resources Canada (NRCAN) is the authority that formally enrolls retailers, manufacturers and more to the program.

According to NRCan, there are more than 80 types of products eligible for ENERGY STAR certification in Canada. When it comes to these eligible products, appliances are a great place to make a significant impact on your home energy usage.

How can I benefit from using Energy Star rated products?

The first and, perhaps most obvious benefit to adopting ENERGY STAR products is the energy savings. Believe it or not, household appliances (i.e. refrigerators, dishwashers) can account for up to 13.6 per cent of the total energy usage for the average Canadian home. When browsing your appliance options, ENERGY STAR products will have a label for the average cost of operating the product. Adopting ENERGY STAR certified models can greatly reduce your household’s ongoing energy consumption without sacrificing on performance.

With energy savings, the next added benefit is a lower home energy bill. Over time, these savings can add up, making them a worthwhile long-term investment.

A third benefit is that ENERGY STAR appliances are a step in the right direction to reducing our energy footprint.

Energy-saving and maintenance tips for appliances post-purchase

It cannot go without saying: to make a larger impact on our collective goals towards more sustainable lifestyles, it’s also important to find eco-conscious ways to use and maintain our appliances moving forward – thus, developing green habits and keeping waste out of the landfill.

To help you in this mission, here are some simple practices you can add to your routine:

  1. Unplug high-energy use appliances when not in use, or use a power-strip with a convenient on/off switch. For the tech-savvy, smart outlets are also a great option for controlling and monitoring your on/off preferences from your phone. These tips are great from an energy saving perspective but could also protect your appliances from short-circuiting in the event of a power surge.
  2. Wait to use your washer/dryer and dishwasher until the load is full. This way, you can make the most of these appliances’ clean and dry cycles.
  3. Regularly clean the areas around your appliances – this is particularly important for your refrigerator. When dust and pet hair builds up around the condenser coils at the back of the fridge, the compressor has to work harder and will use more electricity. This ongoing maintenance can make your refrigerator up to 30 per cent more efficient.
  4. Make sure that your refrigerator and freezer have space around them on all sides to allow air to circulate freely and to avoid heat being trapped.
  5. Clean out the filter on your dryer and dishwasher regularly.

So, the next time you’re looking for a new appliance, consider letting ENERGY STAR be your guide – giving you confidence as you browse an overwhelming sea of choices.

To learn more about ENERGY STAR, check out the ThinkEnergy podcast episode, “Is Eco-Purchasing on the Rise?,” featuring Dianna Miller, Chief of ENERGY STAR. In this episode, Dianna shares about the ENERGY STAR program and how it works to not only motivate the production of energy-conscious products, but also to help homeowners and businesses make energy-conscious buying decisions.

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