Product Reviews

Welcome to Consumer Reports.

We’re so glad to have you as a member. You now have access to benefits that can help you choose right, be safe and stay informed.

Quick energy-saving tips with long-term payoffs

Simple one-time changes that save energy and trim costs

Published: February 24, 2014 03:15 PM

Some ways to save energy require you to undertake a messy home improvement project or make such lifestyle changes as taking shorter showers or lowering your heat. But saving energy doesn't have to be a hardship. There are simpler ways to save by making small changes that offer big payoffs for years to come. Here are some money-saving secrets from our experts that’ll help trim your energy use and your utility bill.

Buy Energy Star-qualified appliances. Energy Star appliances are 20 percent more energy efficient than non-­Energy Star versions. And appliances with Energy Star’s “Most Efficient” designation are an additional 10 percent more efficient.  Trading a 10-year-old refrigerator for an Energy Star-­rated model can save about $100 a year. Replacing a pre-1994 dishwasher with an Energy Star model can save around $40 a year (and 10 gallons of water per cycle).

To find Energy Star appliances that did well in our tests, check our Ratings of refrigerators, dishwashers, and washing machines.

Switch to energy-saving lightbulbs. Replacing your incandescent lightbulbs with CFLs (compact fluorescent lightbulbs) can save you $24 a year just in your kitchen (based on four light fixtures). Each CFL bulb saves about $6 per year in electricity, so if you have 30 bulbs in your home, that’s $180 per year in your pocket. CFLs produce 75 percent less heat than traditional incandescents, so your home will be cooler in the bargain.

Choose LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs for undercabinet light­ing to save even more money. They cost $25 to $200 per unit, but Energy Star ver­sions should last 22 years based on 3 hours of use per day. To find the right lightbulbs for your fixtures, check the results of our tests of LED, CFL and halogen lightbulbs.

Match your pots to your burners. You can save $36 a year for an electric range and $18 annually on gas by using the correct­ sized pot for cooking. A smaller pot will require less energy to heat its contents, something to remember next time you consider using a 10­-quart stockpot to heat up a package of peas. Also, keep those pots covered: You’ll cook more efficiently and keep the kitchen cooler.

Before replacing your cooking equipment, check the results of our tests of electric, gas, and pro-style ranges. We also test cooktops and wall ovens.

Look out for energy rebates. When making energy upgrades, including buying new appliances, it can pay to check the website of the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency ( According to a recent survey, Consumer Reports readers saved about $150 with rebates alone.

Tighten your envelope. Time to replace your windows? You’ll save some $95 per year by installing windows with the Energy Star label. Proper, gap-­free installation is a must. Energy Star-qualified windows can help improve your comfort, cut drafts, and reduce fading of interior furnishings. See the windows that did best in our tests.

—Adapted from Consumer Reports’ Kitchen Planning & Buying Guide

Find Ratings

Lightbulbs Ratings

View and compare all Lightbulbs ratings.

Refrigerators Ratings

View and compare all Refrigerators ratings.

Dishwashers Ratings

View and compare all Dishwashers ratings.

Washing Machines Ratings

View and compare all Washing Machines ratings.

Ranges Ratings

View and compare all Ranges ratings.

Replacement Windows Ratings

View and compare all Replacement Windows ratings.

Cooktops Ratings

View and compare all Cooktops ratings.

E-mail Newsletters

FREE e-mail Newsletters! Choose from cars, safety, health, and more!
Already signed-up?
Manage your newsletters here too.

Home & Garden News


Cars Build & Buy Car Buying Service
Save thousands off MSRP with upfront dealer pricing information and a transparent car buying experience.

See your savings


Mobile Get Ratings on the go and compare
while you shop

Learn more