If you're ready to upgrade to a new energy-efficient appliance, you have a lot of great options. We've put together this buying guide to help make sure you buy the right one for your specific needs.
Heaters or Furnaces
Did you know that by replacing a central forced-air furnace that is 15 years old or older with a new energy-efficient model, you could save up to 20 percent on heating costs?
- When buying a new natural gas furnace look for a unit with a higher Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) or an Energy Star®label.
- When choosing a furnace, be sure to take into consideration the size, location, construction and insulation of your home. A system that is too large wastes fuel and money because it keeps cycling on and off. Ask a qualified natural gas heating contractor to estimate the heat loss of your home and recommend an appropriate size for your new furnace.
- SoCalGas provides weatherization and furnace repair/replacement for qualified residences of limited-income customers.
Programmable thermostats save on heating costs by automatically turning thermostats down or off when you want and back on again when you need heat.
- Programmable thermostats are available in do-it-yourself or professional installation models (including units with several settings to turn heat down at night and during work or school hours when the house is empty) and units that handle both heating and air conditioning for year-round savings.
Before buying a thermostat, consider the following:
- Is the thermostat compatible with the electrical wiring found in your current unit?
- Are you able to install it yourself, or should you hire an electrician or a heating / air conditioning (HVAC) contractor?
- Are the programming instructions easy to understand?
- When buying a new water heater, choose an Energy Star-certified natural gas model.
- Check with your local water utility to see if they have rebates on water heaters.
- The energy efficiency of a storage water heater is indicated by its "Energy Factor" (EF). The higher the EF, the more efficient the water heater. For example, a .67 EF 40 gallon model can save up to $360 over the lifetime of the heater.
- Don’t buy a water heater bigger than you need. Before you shop, estimate your household's peak hour demand and look for a water heater with the capacity to meet that demand.
- Always consult a contractor when considering a tankless water heater installation.
- Consider replacing your old, inefficient clothes washer with a new Energy Star-certified model. There are both top-loading and front-loading, high-efficiency models to choose from, depending on your needs and preferences. High-efficiency clothes washers can save up to 50 percent in energy costs. Check with your local water utility to see if they have rebates for new energy-efficient clothes washers.
Choose clothes washers with energy-saving features:
- Temperature controls, so you can choose cold-water settings.
- Water level controls, so you can use less water for small loads.
- Presoaking option, to help clothes get clean with a shorter wash cycle.
- A high-speed spin cycle for better water removal and reduced drying time.
- Be sure to check your laundry room connections before comparing natural gas versus electric clothes dryers. A natural gas dryer requires a natural gas hook-up and a 120-volt electric outlet. Electric dryers require a 240-volt electric outlet.
- When buying a new dryer, choose an energy-efficient model.
- Energy-efficient natural gas dryers can be more expensive than standard models, but the savings from operating a natural gas dryer can more than offset the initial purchase price difference – saving you more money on your monthly natural gas bill.
Choose energy features that save:
- A moisture sensor that automatically shuts off the machine as soon as your clothes are dry.
- A cycle with a cool-down period, sometimes known as a "permanent-press" cycle.
Natural Gas Barbecues
- A natural gas grill can be permanently installed in your yard, or portable models are available with a quick-disconnect.
- When you use a natural gas grill constructed of stainless steel, you have a unit that will prove long lasting, and provides a true commercial-quality kitchen appearance. Other grill exteriors are made of enameled steel and aluminum. Look for heavier, thicker grades for the longest life.
- Top-rated burners, cooking grids and grates are made of stainless or enameled stainless steel, cast or brass.
- For an additional fee, a representative from Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) will connect your natural gas barbecue.
- The following types of insulation are available at hardware, building supply stores and lumberyards: blanket or batts, loose-fill / blown-in, rigid, and reflective.
- When choosing insulation, be sure it meets local building codes and always consider the R-value, a measure of effectiveness. "R" stands for the resistance to heat flow; the higher the "R" number, the greater the insulating power.
- When deciding which weather stripping materials to buy, consider installation instructions, how long it will last, where it will be used and the price.
- Instructions for installing weather stripping can be found in home improvement books or weather stripping kits. You can also ask home improvement personnel for advice on installation and which type of material you should buy.
- Purchase a new Energy Star®-certified dishwasher with energy-saving settings, such as partial load setting (which uses less hot water) and energy-efficient drying cycles.
- Check with your local water utility, too, to see if they have rebates for new energy-efficient dishwashers.
- Visit the Energy Star store locator* to find a retailer near you.
- If you are buying a new duct system, consider one that comes with insulation already installed.
- When buying a new electric air conditioner or evaporative cooler, choose an energy-efficient model. Look for a unit with a high Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER).
- Check with your local electric utility for available rebates.
- When purchasing home office equipment, like computers, monitors, printers, scanners and fax machines, look for Energy Star-certified models. Energy Star-certified personal computers, monitors and printers power down during periods of inactivity, reducing energy costs by up to 50 percent, 90 percent and 65 percent, respectively.
- Consider Energy Star-labeled compact fluorescent lights. They can reduce lighting costs by up to 60 percent and last up to ten times longer.
- Replace halogen torchiere lamps with fluorescent Energy Star torchieres.
- Check with your local electric utility regarding the availability of rebates and incentives for energy-efficient lighting.
Check with your local electric utility regarding the availability of rebates and incentives for energy-efficient lighting.
- Consider Energy Star-labeled compact fluorescent lights - they can reduce lighting costs by up to 75 percent and last up to ten times longer.
- Replace halogen torchiere lamps with fluorescent Energy Star torchieres.
- When buying a new refrigerator, choose an energy-efficient model. Energy Star-certified refrigerators are required to use 20 percent less energy than models not labeled with the Energy Star logo.
- Check with your local electric utility provider about the availability of rebates and incentives for new, energy-efficient refrigerators. Some providers offer incentives for recycling older or second refrigerators.
Actual savings obtained in each instance may vary and will depend on various factors, including geographic location, weather conditions, equipment installed, usage rates and so forth. Completing multiple energy-saving measures will not necessarily result in cumulative savings.