Learn to Read Energy Labels and Save

Adobe Stock

We’ve all seen the yellow tags when shopping for new appliances, but do you know how to read them?

The tags have a lot of useful information and if you learn how to read them before you make your next purchase, you could literally save hundreds of dollars.

What Appliances Have Them

Not all appliances have energy guide labels, but there are some types that will always have them. Be sure to compare your options before you make your final buying decision.

  • Boilers
  • Central Air Conditioners
  • Washing Machines
  • Dishwashers
  • Freezers
  • Furnaces
  • Heat Pumps
  • Pool Heaters
  • Televisions
  • Refrigerators
  • Water Heaters
  • Window Air Conditioning Units

Label Information

The Energy Guide labels are standardized across different brands and appliances. They all have the same information, so let’s look at how to read them to make the best choice.

In the top left directly under “Energy Guide,” you’ll find a list of key features. For example, if a refrigerator has an automatic defrost – it will be listed in this section. On the opposite side, you’ll find the make, model and manufacturer the label is for. Ensure the label matches the item you are looking at.

The center section shows you the estimated operating cost per year. This is a RANGE and is very handy because the range indicates the operating cost of all appliances in the same category.

If you are looking at the dishwasher and the arrow points to the middle of the range, it means that particular dishwasher uses 50 percent more energy than some other dishwashers, but 50 percent less energy than others. The higher along the path of the range means the more efficient the appliance is.

At the bottom of the label, you’ll find the Estimated Yearly Electricity Use. This number will be represented followed by kWh. You can multiply this number by the local electricity rate you can find on your latest bill. This will give you a better idea of the actual dollars per year you will spend to operate the appliance.

Energy Star Label

If the unit has an energy star label, it means the product uses less energy than standard models. As you can see above, however, just because it has an Energy Star label, doesn’t mean it is as efficient as other models.