Energy-efficient Appliance Buying Guide

Learn how to choose the right energy-efficient appliances to help you conserve energy and save money.

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.

General Tips

Heaters or Furnaces

  • If your heating system is more than 20 years old, a new one could cut your heating bill by about 30 to 50 percent. 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 offer rebates on qualifying ENERGY STAR certified natural gas furnaces, as well as gravity wall furnaces.
  • SoCalGas also provides weatherization and furnace repair/replacement for qualified residences of limited-income customers.
  • Visit the ENERGY STAR store locator to find a retailer near you.

Programmable Thermostats

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.
  • Consider a smart thermostat that has wireless capabilities and/or the ability to be controlled from your smart phone. This keeps the heating/cooling control at your fingertips from anywhere.
  • 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?
 

Water Heaters

  • Water heating can account for up to 25 percent of your bill.
  • 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
  • SoCalGas offers rebates on qualifying ENERGY STAR certified natural gas water heaters with an energy factor of .67 or higher.
  • 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.
  • Visit the ENERGY STAR store locator  to find a retailer near you.
 

Clothes Washers

  • 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. 
  • You could cut your energy use by as much as 50 percent with a new front-loading washing machine.
  • Check with your local water utility to see if they have rebates for new energy-efficient clothes washers.
  • SoCalGas offers rebates on qualifying ENERGY STAR certified and ENERGY STAR Most Efficient 2016 models.
  • 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.
  • Visit the ENERGY STAR store locator to find a retailer near you.
 

Clothes Dryers

  • 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 STAR certified 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.
  • SoCalGas offers rebates on qualifying ENERGY STAR certified gas dryers.
  • 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.
  • Visit the ENERGY STAR store locator to find a retailer near you.
 

Fireplaces

  • Fireplace inserts can be installed in almost any existing masonry fireplace and are available in a variety of styles and designs to match your home's decor.
  • Help improve indoor air quality with "healthy hearths." Find out more at HealthyHearths.org .
 

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 SoCalGas will connect your natural gas barbecue.
 

Pool Appliances

  • When it's time to replace your old pool motor and pump assembly, consider a new energy-efficient model to help save on pool filtering costs.
  • Consider purchasing a cover for your spa or pool. Covers are worthwhile investments that help reduce operating costs.

Caulking

  • Caulking should be used to seal gaps between non-moving parts of doors and windows (such as around frames) and other small openings around the house. You should use the highest quality caulking material suited for your job.
  • Common types of caulking are oil-base, acrylic latex, butyl, polyvinyl and silicone. Caulking materials come in rope form, tubes and disposable cartridges for use with caulking guns. The most common method of applying caulking is with a caulking gun.
 

Insulation

  • 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.
  • SoCalGas offers rebates on attic and wall insulation.

Weather Stripping

  • 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.

Cooking Appliances

Natural gas burners are often preferred by people who enjoy cooking because natural gas offers a greater level of cooking control.
  • When choosing a new cooking appliance, be sure to consider: size and location, efficiency, lifestyle needs and value.

Dishwashers

  • Skip the drying option on your dishwasher and save up to $4 per year.
  • 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 to see if they have rebates for new energy-efficient dishwashers.

Ducts

  • If you are buying a new duct system, consider one that comes with insulation already installed.

Air Conditioning

  • When buying a new electric air conditioner or evaporative cooler, choose an ENERGY STAR certified model. Look for a unit with a high Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER).
  • Check with your local electric utility for available rebates.

Home Office

  • 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.
  • Consider ENERGY STAR certified compact fluorescent lights. ENERGY STAR certified bulbs use about 70 to 90 percent less energy and produce about 70 percent less heat than traditional incandescent bulbs (energystar.gov).
  • 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.

Lighting

Check with your local electric utility regarding the availability of rebates and incentives for energy-efficient lighting.
  • Consider ENERGY STAR certified compact fluorescent lights. ENERGY STAR certified bulbs use about 70 to 90 percent less energy and produce about 70 percent less heat than traditional incandescent bulbs (energystar.gov).
  • Replace halogen torchiere lamps with fluorescent ENERGY STAR torchieres.

Refrigerators

  • When buying a new refrigerator, choose an ENERGY STAR certified refrigerator.
  • Consumers can save as much as $260 over the next five years and reduce their carbon footprint by 7,900 pounds when replacing an old refrigerator with a new ENERGY STAR certified model (energystar.gov).
  • 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. 
 

Windows

Your decisions regarding the type of windows to install will have a significant impact on your home's overall energy use.
  • ENERGY STAR certified products have a high standard of energy performance that's up to 15 percent better than standard single-pane windows. For possible available rebates, check with your local electric utility provider.
  • Look for windows with these energy-saving features: double panes; low-e coatings; low conductivity gas-fill between panes; and wood, vinyl or fiberglass frames.
  • Look for the NFRC(National Fenestration Rating Council) label as your guide to window energy performance. A window's ability to insulate is given by its U-value; and the lower the U-value, the more efficient the window.
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.