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Q: My wife and I have been shopping for new appliances. There’s nothing wrong with the ones we have. We were just thinking about getting something different. Obviously, it’s been awhile since I’ve been in the market for a refrigerator because I almost passed out when I saw the prices. They all have “energy savings” stickers on them. Are newer appliances really more efficient than the ones I have?

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A: Both my grandparents and parents had GE refrigerators that never died. Over 40 years later they were still keeping the iced tea cold. There’s something to that old saying, “They don’t make ‘em like they used to.”

That said, while those refrigerators were keeping the tea cold, they were using more energy to do it than the latest model you can buy today. I can’t tell you to go out and buy that refrigerator that almost made you pass out. But I can point out some energy stealers in your home. Fixing these, if there’s a problem, will save you money that perhaps you can put toward that refrigerator. Or keep in your pocket as you enjoy the one you currently have.

When it comes to energy stealers, let’s round up the usual suspects:

Single-pane windows. This is a biggie. Single-pane windows can account for up to 40% of the energy lost in your home. Why? Because there’s only a single pane of glass between you and the weather outside.

Newer windows are double paned and are filled with inert gasses like argon. This puts an insulation layer between the outside weather and the inside of your home. They are significantly more efficient and save a lot of money long-term.

Should you replace all your single-pane windows? The answer is likely “yes”. If you plan to stay in your home for a long time, the energy savings will eventually pay for the initial cost of the windows. If you plan to sell your home, new windows are a huge selling point. These days if a home buyer sees all single-pane windows they know they will have to replace them. So they will likely ask you to come down on your sale price to allow for the expense they will incur.

Hot water heaters. A mistake some people make is setting the temperature too high on their hot water heater. That unnecessarily increases your energy bill. Our skin can only handle hot water to a certain temperature before we burn. Never set your hot water heater above 120 degrees. That’s more than hot enough for your shower and laundry and it will keep your heating cost down. Also, you’ll use less hot water by showering instead of taking a bath.

Older model heating and air conditioning units. Back to Grandpa’s old GE refrigerator. You couldn’t kill it. It was still running almost 50 years later. Yet it was using more electricity than necessary.

Old HVAC units consume a lot of energy to heat or cool a home. New units can save you up to 50% on your heating and cooling bills. If you’re in the middle of a Phoenix summer or a Minnesota winter and your monthly bill is $350, imagine cutting that in half. At that rate, it doesn’t take long to pay for a new, more efficient HVAC unit. And added bonus is that there are often rebates available to home owners upgrading their systems.

Poor Insulation. We talk about this all the time. Often the energy efficiency in your home has little to do with your equipment and everything to do with how well your home is “sealed”.

Proper insulation in the attic and walls is crucial to maintaining the heat and cool in your home. Older homes are often woefully inadequate in their insulation. Adding roll out fiberglass batting and/or blowing cellulose insulation into the walls can increase the R-Value dramatically and cut your energy bill.

You wouldn’t think of heating your home in winter with a window wide open. Yet if you walk around your home and discover multiple hairline openings where air gets through, the sum total is the same. Remove and replace all dry and cracked caulking. Weather strip window and door jams. If you can feel the air, your heat and cool are leaving your home.

Older model washers and dryers. The best clothes dryer in the world is an old fashioned clothes line. Other than that, a modern washer and dryer can save you a lot of money. Old dryers cost more to run because the old washers couldn’t spin out as much water as today’s models. Wetter clothes + more drying time = higher energy cost.

Old refrigerators and freezers. It was a sad day when we finally put the old GE refrigerator out to pasture. Yet the day we did it, we likely saved up to 10% on our monthly energy bill. If you don’t need it, unplug it. It’s not worth it just to keep some sodas cool in the summer.

At Sinclair, we’re all about saving you money. Whether it’s inspecting your cooling system or pointing out those areas in your home where energy is escaping, we want you to keep the cool in your home and your money in your pocket. Call us to and we’ll be happy to help solve your problems! 806-749-COOL (2665)

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