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What kind of appliances do you put in your energy-efficient home?
by Katy Purviance on 01/20/10 @ 01:35:55 pm
Categories: Green Design, Articles | 472 words | 1044 views

I just read this article over at Natural Home Magazine (dot com) by Rebecca Selove called “Buying Appliances for a LEED-Certified Home

The only kitchen appliance we brought from our old home is the microwave oven. We’d hoped to find someone in a department store who was knowledgeable and motivated to put together an energy-efficient appliance package with a price tag we liked. We found that while some salespeople knew where to look for the yellow Energy Guide tags that list the kilowatt hours used by an appliance in a year, most wanted to focus on which was the least expensive or the “most popular” version of something, such as refrigerators with French doors.

We found helpful information on the Internet about the Energy Star rating program the EPA implemented in 1992. The Energy Star program encourages manufacturers to voluntarily create appliances with reduced water and energy use, and now consumers like us can compare appliances on these factors. In addition to energy efficiency, we had to consider the way our architect designed our kitchen, our budget and what was available in local stores. My husband also checked out consumer ratings of appliances, which, combined with Energy Star ratings, helped us generate a list of our top choices.

Through our builders we met Matt at the local Cenwood Appliance store. He was savvy about energy efficiency and taught us more about cooktops than I knew existed. I’ve never lived where a cooktop was separate from the oven. I learned about fixed and telescopic downdrafts and induction cook tops (not worth their cost to us). I also learned that energy efficiency in a cooktop is due in part to a good match in size of the burner and size of the bottom of the pan it heats. I came home and measured the bottoms of my favorite pans and learned that the largest are 9 inches in diameter. This meant we didn’t want a cook top with a 12-inch burner.

We left our first meeting with Matt feeling pretty good about our decisions, but with a question still on the table about the oven. I had used a convection oven in a cohousing comunity where we used to live, and appreciated its ability to help me get dinner ready on time even when I started late. The Energy Star convection oven cost about $200 more than a standard oven, and from the American Council on Energy Efficiency, a nonprofit organization that provides education and advocacy related to energy efficiency, I learned that the convection oven is generally 20 percent more efficient than the conventional oven. We settled on a GE Profile 30-inch downdraft electric cook top and a GE 30-inch single oven with convection.

You really want some energy efficient appliances?

How about this yogurt maker?

Or this off-the-grid freezer?

Or this grain grinder?

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places where you could probably learn more about designing and building in just a few days than I did after a year of grad school

Know of some others I can add here? Let me know. Have you already visited some of these places...or planning on it? Let me know and I will feature your story and your photos here!

I am starting a new kind of architecture school. Unlike most architecture schools, you wouldn't have to submit GRE scores or good grades or letters of recommendation. You wouldn't have to put the rest of your life on hold for 3 to 5 years. You wouldn't have to accrue tens of thousands of dollars in debt. At my architecture school, anyone could come for a few weeks and learn how to build a house with their own two hands. My teachers would take skills and concepts from some of these other workshops I've listed above... except classes would be held year-round to make it easy to fit into your schedule. I would have a number of different campuses around the country that would teach building designs appropriate to the local climate. And I need your help. Can you donate land for a campus? Can you dotate books for a library? Can you teach a workshop? Can you provide start-up capital? Let me know.

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