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replacing with energy star appliances
Old 12-11-2007, 10:43 PM   #1
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replacing with energy star appliances

I read an article on what to do to fix up your home before selling it and it said that if your home was 15 years old replacing your appliances with modern energy star models would basically pay for itself in electric cost savings so you might as well do it even if you are not selling.

I bought my house in 1988 and it had an existing Sears dish washer and a GE stove with coil burners. I've already replaced the refrigerator and washer dryer.

Do you think I should buy a new dishwasher? The stove is pretty ratty and the oven needs a new heating element, so it is probably a no-brainer to replace the stove.

I wonder how they can cut the power consumption on a stove though since it seems to need power to make heat.

I also have an oil furnace that I bought back in 1989. The article also implied that a oil hot water furnace only lasts about 15 years and should be replaced. Mine seems ok, but I was surprised when the repair guy referred to it as an
"old model".

Have there been signifcant improvements in the past 20 years that might cut my oil bill? I read that the average cost is around $1600 a year, but I just had two deliveries adding up to nearly a grand already.

As long as I am thinking about it, what about some sort of digital thermostats that might do better? However, I am not sure about just turning the heat low during the day because I have an old cat and I want him to be comfortable. He does seem to snuggle up to the baseboard radiator units, so maybe I could just leave one area on for him.

As usual, thanks for all the advice. Maybe after a while I will be able to pass some along to future newbies.
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Old 12-12-2007, 08:38 AM   #2
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I would love to see the math that says the money used to replace a functioning appliance is a good investment. I have trouble with that idea. I'll replace mine when they NEED replacing.

An exception may be an old furnace. If your old one is 55% eff, and a reasonably priced new one is 92%, that can be some real savings. But you need to look at your bills and do the math. Don't forget that the money you 'invested' in the new appliance could be earning money in another investment.

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Old 12-12-2007, 11:30 AM   #3
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If the DW is 19 years old, you are living on borrowed time there. Yeh, replace the DW.

Good advice on the furnace too. Change it out.
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Old 12-12-2007, 11:33 AM   #4
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Old 12-12-2007, 11:48 AM   #5
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If the DW is 19 years old, you are living on borrowed time there. Yeh, replace the DW.

Good advice on the furnace too. Change it out.
If DW was 19 years old, I would be living on borrowed time for sure, but I wouldn't replace her.
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Old 12-12-2007, 11:51 AM   #6
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If the DW is 19 years old, you are living on borrowed time there. Yeh, replace the DW.
On this forum DW is a common term for dear wife, not dishwasher. But upon reflection, I'd say this was probably good advice in either circumstance.
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Old 12-12-2007, 12:17 PM   #7
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Its a good thing I laid off the baileys this morning and didnt say something like "dear wife, dishwasher, same thing..."

Cuz then I'd be in big trouble.

There is definitely some advantages to refrigerators, dishwashers, washing machines and furnaces vs 20 year old models. Do pay attention to the actual energy usage of various models that you're considering, as the 'energy star' nomenclature is rather generously given out. Given two dishwashers labeled 'energy star', one might use half the electricity as the other.

Check our rebate programs from your utility companies, both water and electric. Some companies offer tiered programs where you might get a $125 rebate for a super high efficiency model and $50-75 for a lower efficiency unit. Pretty important if the price difference is only $50 and the higher efficiency unit has more useful features or better performance.

Furnaces are a tough one. The latest super high efficiency models are quite a bit more expensive than middling efficiency models, and while you'd get payback in a 10+ year period I dont think I'd put in one of the expensive ones if I was planning on selling the house.

Sales wise, its going to be a lot easier to sell a house with newer appliances than one with appliances at the end of their service life. Its a smart investment that wont increase your sales price, but it might get you a buyer over someone with a house full of old creaky appliances.

Heres a curveball though. I dont think appliances made today are made with the same care and quality that appliances made 10-20 years ago were. I've been stung a few times in the last few years when replacing a functioning but older appliance with a new one to "avoid problems", only to have the new one break down. I wouldnt count on todays appliances to last a full 15-20 years.

Sounds like you want to replace the stove. I'd replace the dishwasher with a decent mid range energy star model in the $300-400 range. It'll be quieter, use a lot less water, a lot less electricity, and probably get your dishes cleaner.

If you've had the oil furnace serviced every year or two, you might get another 4-5 years out of it. If you havent kept up with the maintenance, its probably near the end of its service life. If you've gone through two tanks already you live in a cold weather location and cant do without the furnace for more than a day. An emergency 24 hour furnace replacement is very expensive and you'd probably be limited to a few dealers with a few models in stock and ready for installation. If you're planning to live in the house for 10+ years I'd put in one of the higher efficiency models, otherwise something thats decent and on sale would be a good choice. When buying a furnace, many manufacturers make 4-5 models with rising features and efficiency. I've rarely seen much payback in buying the highest end model unless you're going to live in the house forever and have a very long heating season...canada, northern central and northeastern US.

Here again, look at the rebates from the utilities and the manufacturers, along with tax credits and deductions. Get a variable speed fan model, which may only be available in the top 2-3 model tiers, these qualify for a lot of rebates in most areas and the lower fan speeds save a lot of energy.

Watch out for surprise costs. Some states (like California) require duct replacement and/or sealing during furnace replacements. Some installers wont tell you about this in the first quote. In most instances, you might need to also bring the installation up to current building code and that can really be expensive.
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Old 12-12-2007, 01:08 PM   #8
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The rules of thumb ("If it's more than x years old, blah blah"), are nice, but nothing beats doing the calculations for your exact appliance and electricity rate.

That is, put a kill-a-watt device on your fridge and measure it's usage for a week. Then plug in your electricity rate, the expected usage of the new fridge, and the amount you'd get on your money if you didn't buy a new one.
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Old 12-12-2007, 02:12 PM   #9
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If DW was 19 years old, I would be living on borrowed time for sure, but I wouldn't replace her.
I'm in.....where can I get this 19 year old DW, Russia or the Ukraine??

Of course, current DW would kill me,so the borrowed time would be short...........
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Old 12-12-2007, 02:14 PM   #10
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I think the 19 year old one would kill you too.
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Old 12-12-2007, 09:29 PM   #11
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Thanks for all the well considered comments.

The article was about beefing up for selling, but I have no immediate plans t sell. I am probably getting close to FI, but probably will not RE for another 5 or so years when I am around 56. At that point I may downsize the house since it is large for one person and the property tax is $5K.

Sounds like the stove and dish washer are gonna get replaced. You will probably think I'm stupid, but it has been almost two years since the oven broke and I have not been able to get off my butt and replace the element.

I will start researching the furnace replacement and the payback. The cleaning guy is coming next month. I will talk with him.

I was thinking this afternoon that even if I just broke even over some 5-10 year payback period it might be nice to be able to do my part and cut back on how much oil I am consuming. Living by myself, my carbon footprint is much higher than those in a family who get to split the basic housing overhead.

I replaced most of my light bulbs with compact flouresants and have made an effort to turn off the TV and lights when I do not need them. So far I have lowered my electricity consumption by about 35%. However, due to price increases and the fact that I signed up to have all of my electricty come from green energy suppliers, my bill has stayed about the same.
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Old 12-12-2007, 09:38 PM   #12
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You will probably think I'm stupid, but it has been almost two years since the oven broke and I have not been able to get off my butt and replace the element.
Nah, I understand. I was going to join the local procrastinators club, but never seemed to get around to it.

But seriously, it seems to me replacing an element in an electric stove would be less effort than buying a whole new stove, waiting for delivery, it won't fit, something will be broken and need service...

I've got a gas oven, but I seem to remember those elements are accessible from the front (shut off the power!!!!). Unless, like my wife, you really do want a new oven?

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Old 12-13-2007, 12:03 AM   #13
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Like Al says, it really helps to compare your current power use to that of an EnergyStar appliance, perhaps using a Kill-A-Watt or at least the rating off your current appliance's labels. It's a slam-dunk around here with electricity at 22 cents/KWHr but if you're living among cheap power then the payback may be as long as the life of the appliance. Having said that, the technology improvements are most impressive.

An extra-cheap way to get the payback would be to look at your local Craigslist for EnergyStar appliances. You probably won't get any manufacturer or utility rebates but you'll be paying less than half of retail. People are always remodeling and throwing out their appliances for the most trivial of reasons, and it's a great way to pick up late-model deals. If EnergyStar isn't out there then try for 2-3 years old and you'll still gain most of the tech advances.

We bought a Kenmore front-loading washer/dryer set off Craigslist (Front loading washer) and saved huge amounts of energy on the dryer-- over 80 KWHr/month. At $17/month that's only an 18-month payback.

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You will probably think I'm stupid, but it has been almost two years since the oven broke and I have not been able to get off my butt and replace the element.
We only use our oven for whole turkeys and cookies.

If your oven is "that important" to you then you might want to consider a convection microwave oven of about 1.1 cu ft or so. They seem to be bulky & heavy compared to microwaves but they cook just as well as an oven (and a microwave) while using a fraction of the oven's energy and still browning the food.

We've been very happy with Achiever51's dishwasher (New dishwasher recommendation?), although it's difficult to tell that it's actually running.

If you're looking for big gains from new appliances, though, the first step is probably a new refrigerator. That's one of a house's biggest energy hogs. And if you have a second fridge, you'll save even more $$ by finding a way to live without it.
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Old 12-13-2007, 12:31 AM   #14
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On this forum DW is a common term for dear wife, not dishwasher. But upon reflection, I'd say this was probably good advice in either circumstance.
Are you so sure that's not what I meant!
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Old 12-13-2007, 12:32 AM   #15
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If DW was 19 years old, I would be living on borrowed time for sure, but I wouldn't replace her.
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Old 12-13-2007, 12:39 AM   #16
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I'm in.....where can I get this 19 year old DW, Russia or the Ukraine??

Of course, current DW would kill me,so the borrowed time would be short...........

Ok, I admit it. When I said "DW", I WAS thinking merely of "dishwasher".

I wonder how long it will take to live this one down?
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Old 12-13-2007, 10:24 AM   #17
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you might want to consider a convection microwave oven of about 1.1 cu ft or so
To heck with these 1.1 cu ft jobs, I want one of the original microwave ovens. Built using surplus radar magnetrons, and standing 6' tall and weighing 750lbs, it could cook a large roast in 55 seconds.
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Old 12-13-2007, 10:26 AM   #18
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To heck with these 1.1 cu ft jobs, I want one of the original microwave ovens. Built using surplus radar magnetrons, and standing 6' tall and weighing 750lbs, it could cook a large roast in 55 seconds.
...and fry your gonads 50 feet away.
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Old 12-13-2007, 11:21 AM   #19
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To heck with these 1.1 cu ft jobs, I want one of the original microwave ovens. Built using surplus radar magnetrons, and standing 6' tall and weighing 750lbs, it could cook a large roast in 55 seconds.
I had one that wasn't quite that large, but you probably could have fit four of my present microwaves in it. It was the first year that microwaves became commonly available, and I didn't know anyone who had one. So, I bought the one that said you could cook a turkey in it. (Never did it, though). It had an electric browner in it so things would "look right", too.

The darn thing lasted until last year. I used it, and used it, and used it, and it just wouldn't break!! I read articles that made me wonder about safety issues. Finally, I gave up on waiting for it to break and took it to the dump with my Katrina debris.

I sure do like my shiny new stainless Emerson microwave, 1.2 cu ft.
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Old 12-13-2007, 11:25 AM   #20
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...and fry your gonads 50 feet away.
Allegedly on doing some testing in an open environment, the "inventor" of the microwave noticed that some candy in his pocket had melted. Curiosity piqued, he experimented further...

Five bucks says he never had any kids after that.

Or the story about that Darwin award winning wannabe that in the winter used to go up onto a structure between two microwave towers to sunbathe, as it was really, really warm up there... :
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