How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint By Replacing Old Appliances With Energy Efficient Models

How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint By Replacing Old Appliances With Energy Efficient Models

How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint By Replacing Old Appliances With Energy Efficient Models

Why replace old appliances?

Replacing old, inefficient appliances with new, energy efficient models is one of the most impactful steps you can take to reduce your carbon footprint. Appliances like refrigerators, dishwashers, washing machines, and dryers can account for over 20% of the energy use in a typical home (source). By upgrading to energy efficient models, you can significantly cut your energy use and emissions. Here are some key reasons why replacing old appliances makes sense:

  • Old appliances are energy hogs – Appliances that are over 10 years old can use up to 2 or 3 times as much energy as today’s models. Replacing an old fridge from the 1980s with a new ENERGY STAR model can reduce its energy use by over 50% (source).

  • New models have improved efficiency features – Modern appliances incorporate advances like variable speed compressors, heat pump technology, and smart controls to optimize energy use. These features simply didn’t exist in older models.

  • Rebates and incentives are available – Many utility companies and governments offer rebates and tax credits for purchasing energy efficient appliances. This can cover 25-50% of the purchase and installation costs (source).

  • The payback period is relatively short – Buying a new efficient appliance has an upfront cost, but the energy savings mean it pays for itself within 3-7 years through lower utility bills. After that the savings are pure profit in your pocket.

How to identify the most inefficient appliances

The first step is to identify which of your older appliances are dragging down your home’s efficiency. Here are some tips on how to pinpoint energy hogs:

  • Check appliance age – As mentioned above, anything over 10 years old is likely a good replacement candidate. Review manufacture dates and model info.

  • Inspect for damage – Look for signs of wear like rust, odd noises, faulty seals or doors that don’t close properly. These can diminish efficiency.

  • Feel for heat escaping – Run your hand along edges and sides of the appliance. Excess exterior warmth indicates insulation has degraded.

  • Check the energy ratings – Older appliances won’t have EnergyGuide or ENERGY STAR labels, which is a giveaway of inefficiency.

  • Monitor energy use – Utilize a smart plug to track an appliance’s real-time and historical energy consumption. Outliers are probably due for replacement.

  • Consider an energy audit – An expert audit tests and evaluates all your home’s systems. The auditor can identify appliances near or beyond their lifespan.

Choosing the most efficient new appliances

Once you decide it’s time to upgrade an aging, inefficient appliance, choosing the right replacement model is key. Follow these tips for selecting the most efficient, emissions-reducing options:

  • Consult EnergyGuide labels – The yellow EnergyGuide label provides an appliance’s annual energy consumption, operating costs, and efficiency rating. Compare these numbers across models to identify the most efficient options.

  • Look for the ENERGY STAR – If a model has the blue ENERGY STAR label, it is in the top tier for efficiency for that product category. ENERGY STAR models exceed minimum federal standards by 20-30%.

  • Check the size and configuration – When possible, buy smaller models sized appropriately for your household needs. Features like through-the-door ice weaken efficiency.

  • Compare advanced features – Seek models with variable speed motors/compressors, heat pump technology, and smart controls. These provide the best efficiency.

  • Consider alternative refrigerants – Refrigerators using isobutane (R600a) as the coolant are typically 8-14% more efficient than those using HFCs.

  • Read reviews – Research consumer reports and reviews for real-world feedback on an appliance’s actual efficiency and performance.

Maximizing the efficiency benefits

To get the most out of a new energy efficient appliance, be sure to pair it with smart usage and maintenance habits:

  • Recycle the old unit – Properly recycling your old, inefficient appliance keeps hazardous materials like refrigerants, insulation, and compressor oils out of landfills.

  • Size it right – Make sure the new appliance is correctly sized for your household. Oversized units lead to higher energy consumption.

  • Clean filters and coils – Regularly clean out dust on condensers, evaporators, and filters. This maintains proper airflow.

  • Minimize openings – Don’t open fridge/freezer doors more than necessary. Check that seals are tight.

  • Turn off antibacterial modes – Antibacterial settings tend to use excess energy. Manual cleaning is sufficient.

  • Only wash full loads – Wait until you have a full load to run your dishwasher and washing machine.


Upgrading old, inefficient appliances is one of the most impactful steps you can take to shrink your home’s carbon footprint. By replacing aging refrigerators, washers, dryers and more with the latest high-efficiency models, you can reduce appliance energy use by 50% or more. Be sure to identify your most inefficient units, select ENERGY STAR certified options appropriately sized for your household, and pair them with smart usage habits. With the right appliances and practices, you’ll be saving energy, money, and carbon emissions for years to come.