What To Look For When Buying New Appliances

The Old House Web
People say energy efficiency outranks all other features exceptperformance and cost when they shop for an appliance, according totwo Ohio State surveys. And given their choice of additionalfeatures, most people want improved water efficiency and even betterenergy efficiency.

"This is somewhat surprising, because most salespeople and the mediaseem to have dropped energy-efficiency in appliances as an issue,"said Judith Wessel, former home management and equipment specialistfor Ohio State University Extension and author of the studies. "Onereason could be that many of the respondents live in and aroundcentral Ohio, where water is in relatively short supply and cost ofelectricity is on the rise."

One study surveyed predominantly rural residents. The other polledpredominantly urban residents. Special features, which manymanufacturers emphasize in advertising, was at the bottom of the listfor both groups, said Wessel, who is also an assistant professor offamily resource management.

Allen Martin, a graduate associate who helped in the rural-areastudy, said male respondents ranked energy issues higher inimportance than females. Also, as the number of children increased,the importance of energy as a purchase criteria decreased. He saidthat is possibly due to an increased concern for other criteria suchas performance or capacity.

The studies also found that rural families have more refrigeratorsand freezers operating than their urban counterparts. This hasimportant implications, since most second and third refrigeratorsand freezers are older, less energy-efficient models. A newenergy-efficient refrigerator can easily use half of the electricityto cool the same capacity than the typical refrigerator purchased 20years ago.

The study also found that the average age of refrigerators was justover 10 years and the average age of freezers was almost 14 years. According to the appliance industry, the average life expectancy ofrefrigerators is 16 years and that of freezers is 15 years. In thisstudy, nearly 35 percent of the freezers had already exceeded theaverage life expectancy.

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