Your buying guide to energy efficient appliances

Image of Samantha Chan
BC Hydro community outreach rep Samantha Chan knows her appliances. She offers tips on understanding the long-term savings associated with ENERGY STAR appliances.

Understanding the second price tag

Posted by Samantha Chan

Purchasing a new appliance isn't an easy decision. You're faced with a much bigger variety of types, sizes and models than we saw in stores even as recently as five years ago.

With so many options, you might be tempted to base your decision solely on the price tag that you see in store. Many of us rely on price to help narrow down our options, as we naturally look for deals and savings where we can. But to make sure you're truly getting the best deal, consider the "second price tag".

What's the second price tag?

There are really two prices to consider when purchasing an appliance:

  1. The first price tag: the initial cost to purchase an appliance.
  2. The second price tag: the long term cost to operate an appliance over its lifetime.

To get the total cost of an appliance, you need to add the second price tag to the first price tag.

Find the second price tag on the ENERGUIDE label

All appliances sold in Canada have an EnerGuide label. The EnerGuide label outlines how much energy the appliance uses per year, and compares the energy consumption of the appliance to others of the same class (e.g. front load vs. top load). The energy costs are what it takes to operate the appliance. That's your second price tag.

Comparing the total cost between appliances

We all look for sales and compare prices where we can. However, when comparing two appliances, the higher priced model may actually save you more money over time, as the cost to operate the appliance might be lower compared to the sale item that you initially had your eye on.

To put the second tag into perspective, compare two clothes washers of the same size and that have the same features.

Most of us would naturally gravitate towards the less expensive option; however, once we take a closer look at the operating costs of both clothes washers, you realize you can save over the life of the appliance.

First price tag $950 $1000
Operating costs (second price tag) 250 kWh per year* or $23.50 per year** 100 kWh per year* or $9.40 per year**
Lifetime energy costs $352.50 per lifetime*** $141 per lifetime***
Total cost $1302.50 $1141
Lifetime saving $1302.50 to $1141 = $161.50

*Estimates based on an average-use of 295 cycles per year per the U.S. Department of Energy test procedure
**Estimates based on blended two-tiered energy cost of $0.094/kWh
***Average clothes washer lifetime of 15 years

You can see in this example that purchasing the higher-priced washer actually saves you an additional $161.50 over the lifetime of owning the appliance.

Look for select ENERGY STAR® appliances and BC Hydro rebates this fall

ENERGY STAR is the trusted international symbol of energy efficiency that helps us save money and energy without sacrificing performance, features and comfort. ENERGY STAR certified appliances use 10 – 25% less energy than standard appliances; which is why BC Hydro encourages customers to purchase ENERGY STAR approved models.

From now until November 30, 2015 you can get $50-$100 rebates from BC Hydro on the most efficient ENERGY STAR clothes washers, dryers and refrigerators. Watch for more savings from retailers, manufactures, and municipalities on appliances that qualify for a BC Hydro rebate, which can add up to a total savings of $400.

New energy efficient appliances with innovative features become more affordable than ever before with access to rebates and your knowledge of operating costs. Act fast and apply for your rebates online within 60 days of purchase so you can take advantage of the additional savings.

Visit for a complete list of rebates, qualifying appliances, and application instructions.