The kitchen may be the best room in the house to some, but it can also be the most wasteful. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, lighting, refrigeration and cooking are responsible for 41.5% of a home's energy consumption. Add dishwashers, electronics and a plethora of preparatory paraphernalia, and you've got an environmental hot spot.
Yet, appliance companies are improving the efficiency of new models. A good place to start is to look for Energy Star labels. Some of the biggest names, such as Kohler, Bosch, GE, Kenmore, Asko and KitchenAid, are on board. (Although note that some LG and Kenmore Trio refrigerators recently had their Energy Star status suspended, after Consumer Reports tests showed disappointing real-world energy use.)
Available starting this March, Whirlpool is introducing its new Resource Saver refrigerator, billed as the most energy efficient side-by-side refrigerator yet made. The model will qualify for the EPA's Energy Star, since it is expected to be 30% more efficient than federal standards (a minimum of 20% is required for the label). The manufacturer says energy use for the unit will be similar to powering a 60-watt lightbulb.
The fridge is designed with more freezer space, since the ice cube unit is placed entirely within the door. It also incorporates advanced sensors to help keep food cooler more efficiently.
GE's Energy Star Line
For an expensive look without breaking the bank, try GE's Energy Star Kitchen appliances, from dishwashers to stovetops and refrigerators. The models save energy, and thus money, and even incorporate LED lighting. For all the options from GE, visit geappliances.com.
Dishwashers should be seen and not heard. That's the credo behind Asko's latest line of energy-efficient models. The company's tall-tank dishwashers are said to outclean conventional units while using far less water and electricity.
Asko is available in a wide range of styles, colors and sizes, and carries the Energy Star seal. But mum's the word. Ultra-clean technology makes these washers virtually inaudible. For an Asko dealer near you, visit askousa.com.
KitchenAid Architect II Series
KitchenAid has also been working to up efficiency, while keeping lines clean. Perhaps most notable is the induction cooktop, which uses electromagnetic energy to disperse heat throughout, not just under, pots and pans. Find KitchenAid at appliance dealers or online at kitchenaid.com.
Bosch Evolution Fridge
The goal is preserving food as well as the environment. So check out the energy-efficient refrigerators from Bosch. Some feature exterior temperature controls that allow you to make adjustments while the door is closed. Others include an alarm to alert you when the door is left ajar. Visit bosch.com.
Kenmore UltraWash Dishwasher
For a smart look that won't cost a small fortune, consider Kenmore's Elite series dishwashers, which aimed at eco-chic. Energy Star certification means your dishes will clean up with less energy and water. Find them at kenmore.com.