You might not be looking forward to shelling out the cash for a new washing machine or refrigerator. But there’s some good news: According to a recent report by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), home appliances are currently at an all-time high in efficiency and effectiveness, while cheaper than ever. Rest assured that whatever you purchase will be an improvement on your old, outdated model.
The energy efficiency of several major appliances has increased dramatically over the past three decades. The AHAM report found that between 1981 and 2013, average efficiency shot up by 46 percent for room air conditioners, 63 percent for freezers, 102 percent for washing machines, 123 percent for dryers and a whopping 217 percent for refrigerators.
Advances in technology have fueled the savings — for example, modern dishwashers use sensors to adjust how much water they use, and cut back when appropriate. Refrigerators have been almost entirely overhauled since their early days, with big improvements in insulation, compressors, heat exchange and fan motors.
The federal government has helped nudge appliances toward higher efficiency. Since 1987 the government has incrementally increased the efficiency requirements for most household equipment, with 25 new standards since 2009 alone. All told, the Department of Energy projects that its rules will save the nation more than $1.7 trillion by 2030, in addition to lowering our greenhouse gas emissions and impact on the environment.
Not only do modern appliances save you money on your utility bills, most of them are cheaper to purchase initially as well. The American Enterprise Institute noted that a common dishwasher in 1981 cost $359.88. By contrast, a similar model today goes for $349.99. Accounting for inflation and average wage, that’s a big discount. It would take the average worker 48.5 hours to purchase the 1981 model, while today’s dishwasher would take 17 hours of work at current average wages, according to the AEI analysis.
A separate study by the Appliance Standards Awareness Project found that the price of refrigerators dropped by 35 percent between 1987 and 2010. The bottom line: Households in the modern era save on appliances up front and over time.
Discover How to Save
If you are in the market for a new appliance, you might be shocked at how much you save on your electricity bill — replacing an older refrigerator, for example, can save you hundreds of dollars per year. Check out the federal Energy Star products listing to find equipment certified to meet the strictest efficiency standards.