The Miele fridge is relatively narrow at a width of 30 inches. Its small size contributes to its energy efficiency, another factor to consider when refrigerator shopping. You should also consider longevity. “If you buy a product that has a longer life cycle, then it will not go to the dump site as often,” says Carmen Mateo, kitchen designer with The Green Home Center in San Francisco, Calif. “Generally, the more expensive ones tend to last longer. The SubZero refrigerator, which is built like a tank, tends to last a minimum of 20 years.”
In addition to its Energy Star rating, SubZero touts the fact that all its appliances are U.S.-made, eliminating the environmental impact of international shipping, and all scrap metal from the production process is recycled.
Green Cleaning Besides electricity, dishwashers, washers and dryers are all heavy users of another resource: water. Manufacturers are improving efficiency in these categories by reducing and finding new ways to use water.
The Fagor Tall Tub Dishwasher conserves water by only adding fresh water as needed during the wash cycle.
The Fagor Tall Tub Dishwasher has an eco-sensor that monitors water quality during the wash cycle and only adds fresh water as needed, reducing usage by up to 25 percent per load. LG uses steam instead of water in its dishwasher.
Steam is also making its way into the laundry category. LG’s SteamWasher uses less water and energy than standard washers. The companion SteamDryer features a SteamFresh cycle to reduce wrinkles, which saves the electricity needed to iron.
When choosing a washing machine, opting for an Energy-Star water-saving front-loader versus a top-loader with a central agitator will save you money. A standard clothes washer costs $1,310 per year to operate, whereas an Energy Star washer costs only $760 per year. And if you often wash less than a full load, a model that automatically senses load size can help. Washing in cold water saves the energy of heating the water and is a good option for clothing not heavily soiled. Bosch’s Nexxt Washers feature an ECOACTION option that decreases temperature and reduces energy usage up to 20 percent per load.
LG’s steam-powered washer and dryer conserve water while leaving clothes stain- and wrinkle-free.
And because smaller units by their nature use less electricity, Seattle-based Green Kitchen Designer Molly McCabe recommends only buying as large a washer and dryer as you need. For McCabe, her husband and two children, Miele’s compact washing machine meets her family’s needs. “People want these massive units that can wash 16 pairs of jeans and I am like, ‘why?’” she asks. “I will level with you—I cannot put a queen-sized comforter in my machine. But instead I just send it out to the dry cleaner or the Laundromat and save by not having a large unit.”
Green Cooking The key to saving energy while cooking is to cook quickly and focus the energy on heating your food and not your kitchen. LG’s Dual-Convection Electric Range pre-heats the oven 30 percent faster than standard models. And the convection feature ensures food is cooked evenly, which means you can limit how many times you need to open the oven door to check your roast.
Induction cook tops are eco-friendly because the cookware sits directly on the ceramic glass, eliminating the horizontal heat loss you get in a traditional gas range. “Induction is great because you use less power for venting and because it works so fast that you have something cooked in much less time,” says Mateo.