Back in the 1950s, homeowners were inundated with ads, like this one, depicting pretty housewives using state-of-the-art home appliances. The home became a symbol of post-war affluence modernized with dishwashers, dryers, ovens, vacuums and other timesavers promising to make life easier. Those were the days … days of inefficient, energy-guzzling machines. We’ve come a long way, baby. Demand for energy-efficient appliances has increased, which means prices have dropped on once-costly items such as high-efficiency furnaces.
So, how do you tell the good from the gimmick when it comes to green appliances? In North America, the easiest way to guarantee you’re buying an efficient, third-party-verified machine is to look for the Energy Star label. Energy Star is an internationally recognized rating system that tests products for energy efficiency. Products range from building materials(windows, doors, insulation, ventilation) to appliances to lighting. Some states and provinces offer rebates for Energy Star purchases.
Outdoor Green Gear
Of course, green appliances aren’t only found indoors; preparing for the springtime rush, retailers are now pushing eco-workhorses for the yard. Forget gas-guzzling mowers; Solaris’s cordless, solar-powered mower can cut up to 10,000 square feet on one battery charge. Simply mount the solar panel on your shed’s roof and get cutting. Retail value: $569.
Black & Decker allows you to mow and mulch–leaving behind grass clippings (rather than bagging and composting) that function as lawn fertilizer and reduce the need to water–with their Cordless Mulching Mower, which runs on a rechargeable 24-volt battery. Retail value: $500.
Black & Decker also makes other cordless yard tools such as hedge trimmers (about $100) and tree pruners (same price).
Super-recycler TerraCycle Inc. sells oak rain barrels for collecting rainwater for watering plants, lawns, and so on. Simply place the barrel under your gutter’s downspout and turn April’s showers in May’s flowers. Retail value: $150.
Of course, this is just a small sampling of green appliances for your home. Virtually every home category is jammed with green products, so look for the Energy Star label and read the fine print. You can find the products above at the Home Depot, and other large retailers across the continent.