Older appliances use much more energy than newer models, especially those that are 10 years old or more as of 2015. Older appliances that are particularly inefficient include refrigerators, clothes washers, dishwashers, air conditioners and water heaters. ENERGY STAR labels on newer appliances ensure energy efficiency.
Newer appliances are required to meet federal energy-efficiency regulations, but the government did not enforce such standards when older appliances were manufactured. For instance, refrigerators manufactured in the 1970s use 75 percent more electricity than newer models, and ENERGY STAR-certified models add another 15 percent of efficiency. Because newer-model clothes washers use less water, they also use less energy, as most of the energy is used in water heating. Newer dishwashers use less energy because they use less hot water and have more efficient wash cycles.
Modern air conditioners have more efficient compressors, fans and heat transference, so newer models are 20 to 50 percent more efficient than older models. Water heaters more than 10 years old generally operate at over 50 percent less efficiency than newer models. To promote efficient use of energy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awards ENERGY STAR certification to products tested in EPA labs that prove superior in energy use. To keep the ENERGY STAR rating, appliances must pass verification testing every year.