Some friends proudly told me recently they had a 10-year-old refrigerator that was very much in good working condition. At the same time, they complained about their high electricity bills.
The friends bought all those so-called energy-saving devices, but saw very little reduction in their power consumption.
I told them to get rid of old appliances that did not have indicators of energy efficiency ratio even if they were still working. First to go, I said, should be the large refrigerator.
Like many people, my friends are reluctant to invest in new appliances when the old ones seem to be still capable of doing the job. People think they are saving money by hanging on to old stuff that uses up a lot of energy.
Although new models do not seem to be as sturdy as old ones, I told my friends that investing in new but more energy-efficient appliances would pay off almost immediately in terms of lower energy bills.
In a post for the online care2.com, Diane MacEachern, a best-selling author with a Master of Science degree in Natural Resources and the Environment, addresses the costs and benefits of keeping old stuff versus investing in new, energy-efficient appliances.
Out with the old
In many states in the US, she reports, utility companies are even giving customers significant rebates for replacing old appliances with new ones.
“Why? Because it saves utilities money in the long run. When you use energy-efficient appliances, utilities don’t have to build as many new power plants to meet increased demand. In other words, if a utility can use the same amount of energy to power 100 customers as they did to power 50 or 75, they can continue to earn money without needing to incur new construction expenses,” MacEachern says.
Given our critical energy situation, with the threat of rotating blackouts constantly hanging over our heads, it certainly makes sense to conserve energy for our own good.
It will take a few years before new power plants can be operational, and the existing ones are so overworked they are now breaking down more frequently. And, of course, we will also be paying for the construction of new power plants.
With the Philippine population now officially at 100 million and the country trying to lure more foreign investments, sufficient and reliable energy supply will remain a critical issue.
We will be doing ourselves a favor if we reduce our energy consumption. Aside from saving money by reducing our energy consumption, MacEachern cites another benefit of switching to energy-efficient appliances.
“You’ll also do your part to protect the environment, especially where clean air and climate change related to burning fossil fuels for electricity are concerned,” she points out.
Instead of keeping our old appliances until they “die” and just castigating the power producers and distributors for shortfalls in supplies and high rates, we should start demanding additional benefits and services.
MacEachern says her power utility company offered her a US$150 rebate for switching to a more energy-efficient refrigerator and an additional US$50 “to recycle my old fridge for me,” or a total of US$200.
The utility company actually took care of her old refrigerator so she did not have to worry about disposing of it.
Although there are people here who will readily buy old appliances, consumers should start thinking about incentives they want from utility companies for using energy wisely and frugally.
Next week I will write about LED (light emitting diodes) bulbs and how they save energy.
Send letters to The Consumer, Lifestyle Section, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 1098 Chino Roces Ave. cor. Mascardo and Yague Sts., 1204 Makati City; fax 8974793/94; or e-mail [email protected]