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Are energy efficient appliances good for your home?

If you’re looking to upgrade your household appliances, planning a renovation or moving into a new home, you might be wondering whether energy efficient appliances are worth the investment.

Many of us are concerned about the impacts of climate change and want to do our part to help. But when it comes to our household, we don’t necessarily want to sacrifice performance for energy efficiency. With low-flow toilets, for example, do you have to flush multiple times? And, if so, will it end up using more water in the long run?


There’s often a stigma around eco-friendly appliances — that they’re less effective or don’t do the job as well as standard appliances. That may have been the case in the past, but technological advancements have made energy efficient alternatives just as effective, if not more so, than their standard counterparts.

Smarter products, better results

It’s a misconception that energy efficient appliances don’t perform as well as standard appliances. Not only do they save energy and water consumption, but they use smart technologies such as sensors and innovative design to give them a leg-up.

Dishwashers: For example, Energy Star-certified dishwashers use 12% less energy and 30% less water than a standard dishwasher, according to Natural Resources Canada. But they have other benefits: Sensors test how dirty the dishes are and adjust the cycle accordingly to achieve maximum cleaning power, while more efficient jets and improved water filtration remove food soils with less detergent and water — resulting in sparkling clean dishes without all the pre-rinsing. Plus, with less water, they’re quieter to operate.

Washing machines and dryers: Energy Star-certified washing machines and dryers use sensors to ensure the load is achieving the desired results, so you don’t have to run it through again (or run the machine longer than necessary). Front-loading washing machines use a small amount of water to tumble clothes rather than rubbing them against an agitator. They also monitor water temperature and spin faster to extract more water, reducing drying time. Your clothes come out clean, without the agitation and temperature fluctuations that can cause damage.

Low-flow toilets, showerheads and faucets: Low-flow or dual-flush toilets, along with energy efficient showerheads and faucets, can help to reduce water consumption without compromising on performance. Low-flow toilets make better use of the water in each flush while providing the same flushing power you’re accustomed to. For the best performance, look for a product with a 500+ score on the Maximum Performance (MaP) ratings. And, low-flow showerheads with the WaterSense Label must meet specific performance criteria to ensure they provide a shower that is equal to or better than conventional showerheads when it comes to water coverage and spray intensity.

Choosing the right product

Canada’s EnerGuide label can be found on major appliances (such as refrigerators, dishwashers and washing machines), heating and cooling equipment (furnaces, air conditioners and water heaters), and windows, doors and lighting. This label shows you how much energy a product or appliance uses compared to similar models, based on standards set by Canada’s Energy Efficiency Regulations.

If the EnerGuide label has an Energy Star logo, it means it’s considered one of the most energy efficient models in that product class. Energy Star is internationally recognized and sets the gold standard for energy efficiency, so look for the logo when buying new products or appliances.

Energy Star-certified products and appliances, along with airtight construction, better insulation and air-sealing around windows, doors and vents, can make your home much more energy efficient. According to NRCan, these work together “to lower energy consumption, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and shrink the home’s carbon footprint.”

For example, better insulation (such as ex-cellulose, mineral wool, cotton or fibreglass) combined with a high-efficiency gas furnace can reduce drafts to keep your home cooler in summer and warmer in winter, prevent excessive dryness or humidity and improve overall air quality — which is good for the health of your family.

Doing the math

They may sometimes have a higher upfront cost, but eco-friendly appliances can potentially save money in the long run. Use the Energy Star savings calculator to estimate your annual operating costs, lifecycle costs, payback periods, total energy savings and total cost savings for one or more certified appliances.

Plus, depending on where you live, you may be eligible for financial incentives or programs from your provincial/territorial government, municipal government or electric and gas utility. You may even be eligible for a refund up to 25% on your CMHC mortgage loan insurance premium when you make energy-saving renovations on an existing home (or buy or build a new one).

While this can help to finance upgrades to your home, sustainable products and appliances can also boost the resale value of your home.

And if you’re wondering how much of an impact you’ll actually make, you may be surprised. Energy Star estimates that if every appliance purchased in the U.S. over the course of a single year was an Energy Star appliance, it would prevent greenhouse gas emissions equal to 215,000 vehicles and save more than US$360 million in annual energy costs.

So energy efficient products will not only perform well and save you money — they’re good for the planet.

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Our Eco-Friendly coverage will help with the cost of replacing your damaged property with energy efficient alternatives.

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