Friday, January 8, 2010

Energy Efficient—and Affordable—Appliances

We needed to get all of our appliance specs into Presby this past week so they could plan/build accordingly. Sure, this task seems pretty undemanding at face value. But in reality, we spent weeks contemplating cook tops and dwelling on dryers. And at times the process wasn’t fun—like when we (well, not me) stood in line on Black Friday at 4:00 a.m. for a washer/dryer…

Yep, choosing appliances took weeks of researching the most efficient models, head scratching over where certain appliances would fit and unearthing the best deals to make sure we stayed within our budget.

One common theme you will notice is that all our appliances are electric. We hope to offset a majority, if not all, of our electric use from our own sustainable energy sources (currently solar & hopefully wind in the future).

Without further ado, here is what we purchased:

Cook Top & Wall Oven- Remember the drama that ensued when we realized we’d need a fan to vent our stove? Because we didn’t want to obstruct the view, and due to the lack of downdraft options in slide in ranges, we opted for a separate cook top and wall oven. Our research revealed that convection ovens are more energy efficient than conventional ovens because they house a fan that blows air around inside the unit—meaning shorter cooking times at lower temperatures. We chose a Kenmore Elite 30 in. Convection Wall Oven and GE Profile 30" Downdraft Electric Cooktop. Both were purchased from the Sears outlet. (Photos courtesy Sears & GE)

Washer/Dryer- Because our laundry room is also serving as our pantry, we need as much space as possible to function in the small space. So, we opted for a stackable washer and dryer. My other half stood in line at an insane hour of the morning on Black Friday to buy this washer/dryer combo for MUCH less than it’s worth. (Thank you!) The washer is Energy Star-compliant; however, dryers are not rated under the Energy Star program. The dryer will only see action in the colder months anyway :) (Photos courtesy Sears)

Refrigerator- Because refrigerators are charged with being the biggest energy consumers, we spent a lot of time researching this appliance, and chose the Frigidaire 18.2 Cu. Ft. Top Mount Refrigerator for various reasons:
  • It uses 34% LESS energy than what is needed to meet the minimum federal government standard (NAECA);

  • It’s estimated yearly operating cost is just $41;

  • It has a top-mounted freezer, which uses 10–25% less energy than bottom-mount or side-by-side models;

  • It lacks an icemaker and water dispenser on purpose. According to the Department of Energy, while these features are convenient, they will increase energy use;

  • It comes in around $500-600. (Photo courtesy Lowes)

Dishwasher- We chose the Frigidaire Gallery Stainless Steel 24 in. Built-In Dishwasher because it was Energy Star compliant, good looking and on sale! (Photo courtesy Sears)

In every appliance we researched and purchased energy consumption was our primary concern. The less kWh we have to use the easier it will be to make our home a zero energy home!


  1. Have you considered NOT having a dishwasher? You'd save space, money, and for just the two of you washing dishes by hand wouldn't take much time (and if done efficiently would also use less energy and water). We've been hand washing our dishes with cold water and as long as we don't let them pile up it's not a nuisance.

  2. Yeah, we don't plan on having to use it much with just the two of us, but it will be nice to have when there is company and for resale value too. It is one of the most efficient models available and was on sale for a fraction of the price so it was worth the investment. So are you doing the dishes for your first dinner over? :)

  3. I'm wondering... are the chocolate dipped strawberries part of the deal? If not... you should try and get those thrown in for free :)

  4. I hadn't even noticed! Long-stemmed strawberries, no less!

  5. I've seen a number of reliable sources say that the more efficient dishwashers use less energy than doing it by hand -- less hot water. Doing them by hand in cold water might change that, however.

  6. Sure! I will do the dishes the first time over, washing the chocolate off of the fondue fountain will be a difficult job but I am up to the challenge!

  7. Kudos on the wise appliance choices. As you work towards being solar and wind-powered, build the habit of not using the clothes dryer at all. It just uses way too much energy for it's small benefit. Most of the world does not use driers at all - even in wintery places. We got rid of ours and have been using these neat new laundry drying racks - I like that they are made in the USA and use no plastics.