When does it pay to buy new appliances?

How do you assess whether to hang onto an old appliance or buy a new or refurbished item? From an environmental perspective, buying durable equipment makes sense because a lot of energy went into making and shipping it. And buying refurbished equipment is similar to recycling. But if the appliance uses energy, and there have been significant improvements in energy efficiency, there’s a point where buying new makes sense.

Profile your energy use to find the best energy saving opportunities. Your industry will drive your energy use profile so you can get a sense of where your energy is going by looking at industry averages online. For example, according to this Energy Star Guide, a typical restaurant uses 35 percent of their energy in food prep, 28 percent for space heating/cooling, 18 percent for sanitation and 13 percent for lighting. Refrigeration alone is 6 percent. If the restaurant doesn’t own the building, they may not be able to change the HVAC but they can save significant sums by switching to newer, energy efficient ovens, cook stoves, water heaters, lighting and refrigerators. (APS has money saving tips for a half dozen common industries here.)

If you want to reduce your electricity bill, check out APS’s business energy analyzer and be sure to investigate if they are offering rebates (which can offset significant percentage of the cost of equipment and installation.) (DSire is a clearinghouse for energy-related rebates and incentives across the US.) If you want to analyze your own operation, APS has arrangements with firms that can do an energy audit for a flat fee. Decide what systems you want audited (e.g., HVAC, refrigeration, etc.) and then choose a consultant familiar with those systems here:  APS energy audits & studies

Payback periods for energy conservation projects can be quite short, sometimes only a couple years. There are few investments that can match that type of return, doubling your money in a few years. Use these calculators to estimate the cost savings of buying an Energy Star appliance.