New York City ranks among the most expensive cities in the world. As such, New Yorkers are constantly seeking ways to cut costs and live a more environmentally-friendly lifestyle at the same time.
One way to do this is by ditching old, energy-guzzling appliances in favor of new ones that are far more efficient, saving hundreds of dollars in energy costs over the years.
Here are seven of the most common energy-saving appliances that renters and buyers should consider when looking to lower their utility bills and reduce their carbon footprint.
1) ENERGY STAR-Certified Window A/C Units with Variable Speed Technology
Summers in NYC can get brutal, with humidity levels reaching 75% or higher in July and August. To make matters worse, all that mugginess can raise indoor temperatures by several degrees, making it feel even hotter. New Yorkers who lack air conditioning units in their apartments find it nearly impossible to sleep when it’s hot and sticky outside. Those who do have A/C blast it to the max, racking up their monthly energy bills in the process.
According to EnergyStar.gov., switching to an energy-efficient A/C with variable speed technology can reduce energy consumption by up to 10% and may cost less than $75 on average per year. The unit’s advanced compressor system can detect hot, mild, and cool indoor temperatures, adjusting its energy usage accordingly. Plus, it runs at lower speeds compared to traditional A/Cs, making it a quieter alternative to its energy-sucking counterpart.
2) High-Efficiency Washers and Dryers
Landing an in-unit washer/dryer in NYC is like striking gold, with roughly 25% of apartments in the city having what New Yorkers view as a sign of having made it.
Unfortunately, these stackable beauties can be quite the energy hogs. According to HowWaterWorks.org, a standard, top-load washer consumes about 45 gallons of water per load and demands even more energy for hot water cycles. By contrast, a high-efficiency, front-load washer uses a mere 15 gallons per load, slashing energy costs by approximately 65%.
Similarly, high-efficiency dryers can use as much as one-quarter of the energy consumed by a non-HE model, dramatically lowering monthly energy bills. The trick? It uses motion sensors to determine when clothes are dry, avoiding the need to run for longer periods. Also, an energy-efficient dryer uses heat pumps to suck in and recirculate hot air rather than releasing it (as a conventional dryer would).
3) ENERGY STAR-Certified Dishwashers
Standard dishwashers use about 10 gallons of water per cycle, while Energy Star models consume just three gallons on average. Why is this such a big deal? Our friends over at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would roll their eyes before answering: “Lower water levels can contribute to higher concentrations of natural and human pollutants,” the EPA says. Translation: less water use = cleaner waterways = a healthier planet.
Landlords and homeowners should take their cue from the EPA and invest in energy-efficient dishwashers for their tenants and future buyers. These environmentally-friendly appliances are relatively inexpensive and easy to install, making them a win-win for landlords and renters who want to cut down on utilities and lower their carbon footprint.
4) Energy-Efficient Refrigerators
Just as monitors and computers have gone from being power-sucking units to energy-efficient ones, refrigerators have gone from using 1,700 kilowatts (kWh) of electricity every year to just 450 kWh. Even more mind-blowing are newer, ENERGY STAR-certified refrigerators that consume less energy than a 60-watt light bulb.
To make the most of this energy-saving practice, landlords should work with their tenants to schedule annual maintenance for these appliances. For instance, keeping the refrigerator coils free of dust, dirt, and grime is critical for its longevity. Otherwise, dirty coils may push the refrigerator to use more energy than necessary and potentially lead to a breakdown.
5) Smart Power Strips
Turn off the lights in your home office or entertainment room and you’ll notice gleams of red, green, and blue lingering in the dark. These are your devices on standby mode.
While not an appliance per se, smart power strips can help reduce energy usage in a significant way by cutting off (or “stripping” away) power to these devices when they’re not actually in use. This is especially handy in today’s devices-galore world, where “energy vampires” like laptops, tablets, smartphones, TVs, and gaming consoles lurk in the shadows, digging their fangs into our wallets while we sleep.
6) Vented Small-Space Heaters
New York City can get chilly before “heat season” kicks in on October 1 every year. But even when boiler systems are rattling full steam ahead (quite literally), NYC dwellers might need an extra boost of heat in their apartments to stay comfy. That’s where vented, small-space heaters come in.
Also called “sealed combustion heaters,” these efficient machines require a flue gas vent that can be directed through the ceiling or wall to the outdoors. This helps to remove toxic gases from the air like carbon monoxide and radon while also generating heat.
To be clear, unvented small-space heaters, especially those powered by kerosene, are not recommended (per Energy.gov) because they can quickly fill up a home with harmful toxins like nitrogen oxide. So it’s best to stick with vented models that are safer and more energy-efficient.
7) Smart Thermostat
Last but not least, a smart thermostat is a must-have for any home equipped with centralized heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC). Not only can these devices save energy by regulating hot and cold temperatures automatically. They’re also quick to install and easy to use.
Favorite features of smart thermostats in NYC and beyond include app integration with a smartphone (so renters won’t have to get up from bed to raise or lower the temperature); a geofencing or “home away” feature that adjusts temperatures or runs the HVAC on fan-mode when it senses nobody is home; and energy tracking reports that tell users when and how they’re consuming the most energy. Popular brands in this category include Nest, Ecobee, and Honeywell.
Final Thoughts on the Best Energy-Saving Appliances for Renters and Buyers in NYC
Ultimately, the best appliances for any home are those that reduce environmental impact and energy consumption without sacrificing comfort. Fortunately, there are plenty of options that can do just that, from ENERGY STAR-certified appliances to smart devices.
However, the most important takeaway is that landlords and renters should work together to reduce energy usage and carbon footprints that harm the environment.
For a comprehensive guide to improving a home’s energy efficiency, visit the U.S. Department of Energy’s website.