Smart Appliance Upgrades

Be proactive about appliance replacement, and don't wait until your old machine stops working to upgrade to an energy efficient model.
Modern Kitchen With Stainless Steel Dishwasher and Green Backsplash

Stainless Steel Dishwasher and Wood Cabinets

A stainless steel dishwasher nests elegantly among beautifully-finished wood cabinets in this kitchen. A green glass tile backsplash adds a vibrant dash of color.

A stainless steel dishwasher nests elegantly among beautifully-finished wood cabinets in this kitchen. A green glass tile backsplash adds a vibrant dash of color.
By: Karin Beuerlein

If your dishwasher or clothes washer is 10 years old, or your refrigerator has turned 15, you should be researching replacements that save energy and money. The abundance of appliance recycling programs means your old hunk of junk doesn't have to end up in the landfill, and you'll recoup some or all of your investment over the life of the appliance in energy savings.

Energy Star models are a good start, but you can do even better. The Consortium for Energy Efficiency's Super-Efficient Home Appliance (SEHA) initiative promotes refrigerators, dishwashers and clothes washers that exceed minimum Energy Star requirements. Their top-tier models are the most efficient on the market and will net you the most savings.


If you're going to update just one appliance, this should be it. Your refrigerator is the biggest energy hog of all your appliances. After all, it runs every minute of the day and the older it is, the greedier it is. Replacing a refrigerator from the 1980s with an Energy Star model will save you $100 per year on your energy bill, and replacing one from the 1970s nets $200 per year. Units with the freezer on top are the most energy efficient.

By the way, if you stick your old refrigerator in the garage to stockpile extra food, you're not really replacing it. Choose your new refrigerator to maximize the kind of storage you need most, then bite the bullet and send the old one to be recycled. If you absolutely require a second unit to handle all your food storage, it's actually better to get a second Energy Star model than to use your old one.


Buying a new Energy Star dishwasher can save you up to $40 annually over a pre-1994 model. But dishwashers are a special case that are rated for the dishwasher's energy consumption only, not the amount of water it uses. And that can make a big difference in the savings you actually realize. According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), some Energy Star dishwashers use half as much water as others, which can total hundreds of gallons per year.

You can check the federally mandated yellow Energy Guide label found on every appliance to compare annual water consumption on each model you're considering.

Clothes Washers

Consider replacing your washing machine if it's more than 10 years old. You'll save about $70 per year by choosing an Energy Star model, or more if you choose a top-tier washer from the SEHA list. In general, front-loading washers use much less water and energy than top-loading models.

Energy Star ratings for clothes washers do take water consumption into account, but models vary widely in efficiency, so read the label carefully. Clothes washer efficiency is indicated by two measurements: MEF (Modified Energy Factor, or how much laundry it can do on one kWh of energy) and WF (Water Factor, or how much water the machine needs per cubic foot of laundry). Ideally, you want a machine with a high MEF and a low WF.

Next Up

Cash In on LED Lighting

LED lamps may be costly, but they'll save you money in the long run.

Smart Thermostats That Save

Learn why programmable thermostats are a smart way to save on your heating and cooling costs.

Save With Home Insulation

Addressing leaky ducts and adding attic insulation can save you significantly on your energy bills.

The Benefits of HVAC Upgrades

Upgrade your heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system, and streamline your energy bill with these tips.

The Perks of Solar Powered Attic Fans

Before installing solar attic fans, learn more about the benefits they provide, including comfort and modest energy savings.

Lower Bills With Low-Flow Faucets

Don't let your home drain your pockets. Consider low-flow showerheads and faucets as a money-saving solution.

The Value of Geothermal Heating

Geothermal heat pumps are expensive, but they pay big dividends in energy savings.

Windows That Work With Your Wallet

Replacing old windows makes your house more comfortable and comes with a small savings bonus.

Stop Home Energy Hogs

From thermostats to drafty windows, get tips for saving energy and money around the house.

Green Home Performance

Maximize energy efficiency with optimum material and design choices and proper installation.

Go Shopping

Refresh your home with stylish products handpicked by HGTV editors.


Luxe for Less

12pm | 11c

Home Town

1pm | 12c

Home Town

2pm | 1c

Home Town

3pm | 2c

Home Town

4pm | 3c

Home Town

5pm | 4c

Home Town

6pm | 5c

Home Town

7pm | 6c
On Tonight
On Tonight

Home Town

8pm | 7c

Home Town

10pm | 9c

Home Town

11pm | 10c

Home Town

12am | 11c

Home Town

2am | 1c

Home Town

3am | 2c

Home Town

4am | 3c

Home Town

5am | 4c

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.