Newer appliances are not only more efficient, they also perform the same or better while including a large number of new features, according to a new report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) and the Appliance Standards Awareness Project (ASAP).

In addition, the report found that product prices have stayed the same or even declined as efficiency has improved. In other cases, electricity bill savings outweigh price increases.

“Everyone knows that replacing your old appliance with a new, more efficient model will save you money on your utility bills,” said Steven Nadel, ACEEE executive director. “What this report shows is that consumers haven’t had to sacrifice good performance or new features in exchange for improved efficiency.”

The report, titled “Better Appliances: An Analysis of Performance, Features, and Price as Efficiency Has Improved,” found that a household with six products (refrigerator, clothes washer and dryer, dishwasher, central air conditioner, and toilets) that just meet the current efficiency standards will save $360 on annual utility bills compared to a household with the same products purchased 20 years ago.

However, until now, little work had been done to examine changes in other product attributes as efficiency has improved. For this report, ACEEE and ASAP analyzed how the choices available to consumers have changed over time as efficiency standards have taken effect for ten residential and commercial products. The report compared the performance, features, and price of products available before and after each standard was implemented.

The report found that product performance generally stayed the same or improved as efficiency standards took effect. Some examples include:

• Temperature performance has improved and noise levels have dropped.
• The average volume of available models has increased.
• Between 1987 and 2010, real prices decreased by about 35 percent while average energy use decreased by more than 50 percent.

Clothes Washers
• Many clothes washers today do a better job of removing stains and are gentler on clothes than older washers.
• Between 1987 and 2010, real prices decreased by about 45 percent while average energy use decreased by 75 percent.

• Dishwashers have continued to provide good washing performance using significantly less energy and water.
• Features such as stainless steel tubs and delayed start have become more common, even on low-price-point models.
• Between 1987 and 2010, real prices decreased by about 30 percent while average energy use decreased by 50 percent.

According to the report, manufacturers introduced and expanded the availability of new features as efficiency standards took effect. For example, consumers now have a significantly wider range of options in bottom-freezer refrigerators including French-door models, and new features include new types of water dispensers, in-the-door ice makers, and additional compartments. The availability of clothes washers with large tub capacities has increased dramatically, and new features include electronic controls and displays, steam cycles, and automatic dispensers.

Click here to download the report.