If you've been shopping for any new appliances within the last 25 years, you probably noticed the little yellow sticker adhered to the front of nearly every appliance. This sticker is full of important information that most people don’t even take the time to read. But, what most consumers don’t realize is by not taking the time to read that yellow sticker; you could be costing yourself a lot of extra money every year in the form of your gas and electric bills.
The Federal Trade Commission created the Energy Guide label in 1980 as a means to educate consumers about their appliance purchases. Each label is specific to the appliance it is applied to. Here is what makes up the information on the Energy Guide label. The number below describes the like number on the label.
- The information detailed here contains the manufacturer of the appliance, the model number and the type of appliance it is. For example: GE, Model #123456, Washer.
- This section provides the consumer with information regarding the appliance’s features. This may include load capacity for a washer or the amount of available space inside the refrigerator or freezer, automatic defrost, etc.
- This number represents the expected annual energy use of the appliance. The number is measured in kilowatts per year (kWh/year) and the lower the number, the more energy friendly the appliance is.
- This scale is used to represent exactly where this appliance falls in comparison with competitive brands as far as energy efficiency is concerned. The most energy efficient appliance will be to the far left on the scale and the costliest will be further to the right on the scale. The numbers on the left designate the lowest kWh/year a similar appliance uses and the number on the right is from the highest energy using appliance.
- This monetary number is the average yearly cost of using the appliance. This is a country wide average, so depending on your area and how much you use the appliance, the figure could actually be more or less than this amount. Below the number may state what the number is based on. For example – The washing machine may have an amount based on 4 loads per week over the course of the year.
The Federally mandated energy rating label is found on refrigerators, dishwashers, washing machines, dryers, freezers, room air conditioners, central air conditioners, water heaters, boilers, heat pumps and pool heaters.
In 2001, the Federal Trade Commission cracked down on appliance retailers who failed to represent the Energy Guide label in an easy to view location on their appliances. Some retailers covered up the label or failed to adhere it to the appliance altogether. In all, 70 retailers were warned about failure to follow the FTC's guidelines and if not corrected, they could face fines of up to $110 per appliance. Since the crackdown, major appliance retailers have been following the rules and obligations they are expected to.
In this day and age of energy consciousness and conservation, the information you have at your disposal will provide you with the tools necessary to make ideal decisions when shopping for new appliances. Now that you know how to read it, look for the yellow Energy Guide label. You just may save yourself, and the Earth, some green.