Today TopTen USA announced the launch of its free, Web-based rankings of the 10 most energy-efficient products in a wide range of categories: refrigerators, freezers, televisions, computers, vehicles, dishwashers, clothes washers, and monitors. The TopTen USA
site lists the 10 best choices for each product category, along with
pricing, specifications, local and online retail options, and
personalized rebate information.
I saw this earlier today and while I was excited at first, I'm not so excited after actually looking at the site. Take 2 examples:
Dishwashers - Out of a ranking of 10, there are only 2 manufacturers, Bosh and Asko, and many of the descriptions say "multiple models". It lists how much water each dishwasher uses per cycle, but how do we know the load size is the same?
TVs - Out of a ranking of 10, they rank three different sizes, from 46" to 60". YOU CANT COMPARE THE ENERGY CONSUMPTION OF THREE DIFFERENT SIZES BECAUSE YOU ARENT EQUALIZING THE DATA.
I appreciate the effort behind this tool, but overall I say the site has a long, long way to go before it can really help consumers. The developers need to give users much more input over the type of appliances they are consuming, to make sure everything is apples - apples. As it stands now it isn't apples to apples, and is actually misleading consumers. The internet is chock full of information, we just need to make sure it is good information.
I'll write a blog post expanding on my thoughts next week.
I very much agree with Chris that comparisons need to be made for at least loosely comparable service levels or functionality. I appreciated seeing that at least these attributes are disclosed (you don't always get that on other lists!). Defining apples-and-apples groupings is always an imperfect science, , but clearly improvements could be made here.
Curious that no plasma sets appear in the top 10. I thought engineers had made substantial strides lowering k'Wh usage in that category...guess they had so far to come down that LED sets sprinted ahead anyway.
Regarding dishwashers, while I'm all for using less H2O, it appears reduced water usage is what qualifies these units for the list, and as we all know water is inexpensive (way too inexpensive, but that's another story) in most areas. Of course the water needs to be heated, so perhaps that factors in as well. I'm running DHW @ about 115 (natural gas) and using the electric heat option in the DW to bring the H2O up to nominal operating temp. Is that still the recommended technique? And man are those marvelous Bosche dishwashers expensive! Suspect that more discipline in DW operation (full loads, air dry, etc) would save many $$.
Still awaiting a roster of high efficiency garbage disposals and toasters :-).
Steve - i'm surprised at the technique to use electricity to reduce energy use for anything, unless it's generated by renewables. Electricity has such a higher carbon factor than natural gas. For Xcel Energy in Colorado, it's 11+ lbCO2e for electricity and only 2 something for natural gas.
Those dishwashers are expensive....I need to replace mine and not looking forward to it.
"I'm surprised at the technique to use electricity to reduce energy use for anything, unless it's generated by renewables. Electricity has such a higher carbon factor than natural gas. "
As usual, nothing is never really simple if looked at hard enough, and perhaps I'm confusing saving energy with saving $$. The option to not use electric heat in the DW is cranking DHW up to the appropriate temp for washing dishes, with subsequent higher stand-by losses associated with storing H2O at the higher temp. Even with a supplementary blanket of insulation, I wonder if the long term use of more natural gas would offset the alternative of a lower storage temp and supplementary electric heat in the DW. Also, I'm not too keen about high DHW supply temps at the faucets.
I don't know of any studies off hand but the national labs probably have something. The DOE and EPA might too since i've seen recommendations from those groups to use a DW rather than handwashing so of course they've crunched the numbers and probably modeled different scenarios. Do you set your DHW at 115 or lower? Did you insulate your pipes coming off the DHW tank?
Was doing some searching while awaiting your response, and a DOE site I located said set the DHW temp back and use the supplementary heat option on the DW. More sophisticated units heat the supply water to 140 for routine washing (optional) and then, as in commercial units, take it all the way to 160 for a final sanitization (!). All of this with electric heat, of course.
Yes, my accessable HW sypply plumbing in the unheated garage is covered with the split tube type insulation and the H2O temp is back around 110-115. We do the sheets weekly @ max DHW temp to kill those little critters (not bed bugs) that I saw a photo of once (and did not sleep well for weeks :-).
Steve - i went to the page but didn't see any reference to best practices for operating the dishwasher. Can you copy and paste into a post? The national labs certainly have sophisticed energy modeling programs. I know a guy who does his research on Solar Domestic Hot Water but he might have connections who model dishwasher applications.
Here it is. Also, I like your idea about getting your associate ,who does modeling, involved. This may seem to be a "small potatoes" issue, but nationally, we're certainly talking major implications...which also makes me think this field has been
plowed many times over. How do we get input from more of our homies on the site? You want to start an new topic on the main page? Thoughts?
Purchase Energy-Efficient Dishwashers and Clothes Washers
The biggest cost of washing dishes and clothes comes from the energy required to heat the water. You'll significantly reduce your energy costs if you purchase and use an energy-efficient dishwasher and clothes washer.
It's commonly assumed that washing dishes by hand saves hot water. However, washing dishes by hand several time a day can be more expensive than operating an energy-efficient dishwasher. You can consume less energy with an energy-efficient dishwasher when properly used and when only operating it with full loads.
When purchasing a new dishwasher, check the EnergyGuide label to see how much energy it uses. Dishwashers fall into one of two categories: compact capacity and standard capacity. Although compact-capacity dishwashers may appear to be more energy efficient on the EnergyGuide Label, they hold fewer dishes, which may force you to use it more frequently. In this case, your energy costs could be higher than with a standard-capacity dishwasher.
One feature that makes a dishwasher more energy efficient is a booster heater. A booster heater increases the temperature of the water entering the dishwasher to the 140ºF recommended for cleaning. Some dishwashers have built-in boosters, while others require manual selection before the wash cycle begins. Some also only activate the booster during the heavy-duty cycle. Dishwashers with booster heaters typically cost more, but they pay for themselves with energy savings in about 1 year if you also lower the water temperature on your water heater.
Another dishwasher feature that reduces hot water use is the availability of cycle selections. Shorter cycles require less water, thereby reducing energy cost.
If you want to ensure that your new dishwasher is energy efficient, purchase one with an ENERGY STAR® label.