• Electricity

Things are not always black and white…literally

By The Foreman Household

As we have been going through our electricity challenge, a few things have become apparent. 

One: There is no magic formula for the kids to remember to turn off the lights. 

Two: It is hard to compare apples to oranges, and sometimes even apples to apples. 

Three: Energy labels can be confusing (see number two).

First, when out shopping for appliances, I noticed two different colours of labels.  Well, it turns out that the white and black labels are Canadian, and the yellow and black label labels are from the United States.  As I have discovered, both countries have strict testing for minimum efficiency for products, however the scale may differ due to different models sold in each country.

Now the real trick is finding the labels.  Many stores did not have the labels available at all!  In that case, I found that by searching online with a model number, I often was able to find the energy label on my own!  Once you have found the label, comes the next trick. 

Comparing model TYPES

It took me a hot minute to figure this out when shopping, but when comparing products (for example two fridges), then there are two important comparisons.  First apples to apples.  For example, comparing the energy used in kilowatt hours of Type 5 fridges (refrigerator-freezers with automatic defrost with bottom-mounted freezer without through-the-door ice service).  To compare a similar type, check the slide.  The slide?  Yes, the energy scale on the label.  For appliances, the further to the left means more efficient (for heating and cooling equipment, the further to the right, is better!)

Next comparison is apples to oranges.  Comparing different model types.  For example, comparing a Type 5 (refrigerator-freezer with automatic defrost with bottom-mounted freezer without through-the-door ice service) vs. a Type 6 (refrigerator-freezer with automatic defrost with top-mounted freezer with through-the-door ice service).  It is helpful to do a bit of research prior to shopping too, to understand how differences in design can affect can affect the efficiency and thus the label rating.  I recently learned that fridges with ice service can use up to 15% more energy, however a top mount freezer is also the most efficient. 

But wait…there’s more!  Or less.  Depending on the size of the appliance.  Listed under the Type is the size or the volume of the appliance!  This is where it is helpful when comparing apples to oranges.  To compare different types of appliances (Type 5 vs. Type 6), it is helpful to compare the same size, the size that suits the needs of your family.  Family needs are important to consider.  Also, in the case of fridges, another important consideration is that your fridge is most efficient when 2/3 full. 

And last but certainly not least is the Energy StarSome products are mandated to have Energy information (some are voluntary).  This is important to understand because although products have met minimum efficiency, not all products that have energy information are the most energy efficient.  When shopping for efficiency, it is also important to look for the Energy Star emblem.  Energy Star instantly identifies products that have qualified as higher efficiency.  Energy Star Most Efficient, are well the most efficient products.  This label is also universal in Canada and the United States. 

Who knew a simple sticker or tag could provide so much info! 

Helpful, as long as you know how to read it!

Written by The Foreman Household

Read more of their stories as they vie with the other seven households to reduce their carbon footprint.

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