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The Low-Down on Earth-Friendly Appliances

Most Americans understand the importance of conserving water and energy in the home, but often lack the research to find energy-saving techniques. Having complete and correct stats about all water-saving products will allow homeowners to make informed decisions about how to best outfit their homes.

Water Heaters

One of the most efficient types of water heaters on the market right now is the tankless water heater, also known as an instantaneous or demand water heater. Most homes in the United States currently use traditional water heaters, which hold water in a tank that is continuously heated. Tankless water heaters heat water only when it's needed. The cold water travels through the pipes into the heating unit, which is either powered by gas or electricity, instantly producing hot water out of the tap. This type of water heater saves energy and water in two ways: 1) it saves electricity by heating water on demand instead of continuously heating unused water in the storage tank, and 2) it saves water by supplying hot water instantly instead of requiring the homeowner to run the tap water until it warms up.

When questioned about the economical advantages of tankless water heaters, Stephen Morrow, owner of O'Handy's in Ashland, states, "Most people don't realize that they're spending a ton of money using an old water heater that isn't as efficient." On average, a tankless water heater will save the homeowner 10 to 20 percent in heating costs. If installing a tankless water heater is beyond your budget, make your current model more efficient by insulating it.

Washing Machines

Washing machines have changed dramatically in the last 10 years Homeowners with washers older than 10 years could save a lot of energy, water and money by investing in a new front load washer. According to Rick Ash, owner of Advantage Appliance in Central Point, older top-load models use three times more water than the newer front load washers. "Front load washers … spin so fast that your clothes are almost dry when they come out; so they save electricity for your dryer as well."

But not all front load washing machines are equal. When purchasing any type of home appliance, look on the label for Energy Star ratings. Energy Star measures water and energy efficiency against the federal standard.


Dishwashers are another appliance that have become increasingly efficient over the years. With any new decent dishwasher, you no longer have to pre-wash the dishes, which saves a lot of water. "With older models, people would have to rinse the dishes by hand before putting them in the dishwasher, using almost gallon-by-gallon the same amount of water. Now I can put a reasonably dirty dish into the dishwasher, and it will come clean," says Morrow. Dishwashers older than 20 years should be replaced with a newer, more efficient model. The initial cost will quickly pay for itself in energy and water savings within a couple of years.


Recently, low-flow toilets have been introduced to the public as a way to save water. Depending on the model, a low-flow toilet can use from 20 to 40 percent less water than regular models. However, there is some discrepancy among professionals about the effectiveness of low-flow toilets because they tend to get clogged. Morrow points out, "Really cheap low-flow toilets get clogged all of the time." He suggests buying nicer models or finding alternative methods of saving water while flushing, such as using drain water or used washing machine water to flush.

Updating appliances is a worthwhile way to save energy, water and money. When the price tag on some of these models makes you cringe, remember that you must calculate savings for over a five to 10-year period. A higher price tag on a more energy-efficient model may save you a bundle of money in the long run, not to mention it will be better for

the environment.

The Low-Down on Earth-Friendly Appliances