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Kitchen Appliances: Repair or Replace? Let Energy Savings Decide

by Susanne Clemenz

There's money hidden in your old kitchen appliances, and much of it is going down your drain. Kitchen appliances have steadily gained efficiency since the early 1990s. Manufacturers are jumping on the ENERGY STAR bandwagon, and initial kitchen appliance costs are often offset by operational savings compared to your old appliances. Many appliances pay for themselves in half of their expected lifetimes.

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  • Upscale 2-drawer dishwashers can run half-size loads most of the time, saving water.
  • Even basic models with "heavy," "normal," and "light" cycles often clean as well as pricier models.
  • Turning off your "heated drying" cycle can save up to 50 percent of operating costs.


  • Cost efficiency: Refrigerators manufactured after April 2008 must be 5 percent more efficient than previous models, on top of efficiencies realized since the early 1990s.
  • Since cold air falls, top-freezer models tend to use less power. The trade-off is convenience.
  • Built-in models often need more repairs, so both initial and long-term costs tend to be higher.

Kitchen Ranges

  • No ENERGY STAR ratings on ranges.
  • Self-cleaning ovens are the best insulated, saving on operating costs.
  • Keep oven door gaskets clean and replace if needed so heat isn't wasted.
  • Open oven doors and pot lids as little as possible while cooking.
  • Induction cooktops waste about 40 percent less energy than other types.

Appliance dealers often dispose of old appliances free or for a modest cost. Besides greater convenience, new appliances give the appearance of a kitchen makeover. Add some new paint, tile, or wallpaper and you really do have a full kitchen makeover!

About the Author

Suzanne Clemenz designed her passive solar home and interacted with the contractors every day of the 6-month project. She started drawing floor plans and making models in the early '70s after purchasing several building lots. Recently she expanded and

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