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Do Not Pay for Appliances Twice

Watch for this label when buying appliances or electronics. It indicates the item is energy efficient. Watch for this label when buying appliances or electronics. It indicates the item is energy efficient.
Be a savvy buyer when shopping for appliances or electronics.

With the holiday season upon us, many people plan to purchase new appliances or electronics.

“Every appliance or electronic device you purchase has two prices associated with it: the original purchase price and the price of operating the device,” says Carl Pedersen, North Dakota State University Extension Service energy educator. “Many people shop for the lowest-priced item but do not take into account how much that particular appliance or electronic device could cost them each year in utility costs.”

Take video games for example. They may not be what most people think of when calculating electricity usage, but at least one video gaming system is found in 40 percent of the homes in the United States. Some video games will use more electricity than the home’s refrigerator.

According to a study by the Natural Resources Defense Council, Americans could save $1 billion annually by purchasing energy-efficient gaming systems or enabling the energy-reduction features of their gaming systems.

For comparison, Nintendo’s Wii uses 16 watts of electricity in the active mode, while the Sony PlayStation 3 (PS3) draws an average of 150 watts of electricity.

In addition, gaming systems often are not sold with energy-reduction “sleep” modes that activate when the game is still on but not being played. On those systems, if the user fails to activate the energy-saving mode or shut the game off, it still draws a significant amount of electricity.

Televisions are another frequently overlooked source of electricity usage, Pedersen says. Many people are purchasing plasma televisions; some draw as much as 500 watts of electricity while in use. Televisions also have standby power usage. The standby power is the power used when the set is turned off. For the remote control to work, the television constantly needs to be using electricity. Televisions that are energy efficient will have low usage rates of electricity while on as well as off.

“When purchasing a television, consider the space,” Pedersen advises. “Generally, the bigger the television, the more energy it consumes. Purchase a television that will fit in the desired space and not simply go for the biggest one sold.”

Numerous Web sites provide energy consumption results of appliances to help people select the most energy-efficient items. Plus, most home appliances will have an EnergyGuide label that lists the average amount of energy the appliance will consume in a year and the average cost for that energy. To see an example of a label and learn how to read it, visit

Regulations have improved in recent years, requiring more energy efficiency in appliances. Federal requirements set specific energy usage minimums for each size and configuration of appliance.

However, EnergyGuide labels are not required on home electronics. To find the most energy-efficient home electronics, look for the ENERGY STAR label. ENERGY STAR is a continually updating rating system that labels a particular appliance or piece of electronics as being energy efficient.

For example, an ENERGY STAR-rated refrigerator will be at least 15 percent more efficient than the current federal requirements. It also will be 40 percent more efficient than the typical model sold just 10 years ago.

Consult the ENERGY STAR Web site at for more information on a particular appliance you are looking to purchase.

For more information about energy efficiency, check out the NDSU Extension Service’s new energy Web site at or contact Pedersen at (701) 231-5833 or

NDSU Agriculture Communication

Source:Carl Pedersen, (701) 231-5833,
Editor:Ellen Crawford, (701) 231-5391,
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