If you’re in the market for a new major appliance, knowing how to read the bright yellow Energy Guide label can help you make the most cost-effective choice for your budget while saving a considerable amount of money on your energy bills.  Designed to inform the consumer about the energy usage and estimated annual operating costs of an appliance, the EnergyGuide label makes it easy to compare various models of the same appliance.

Key Features

The upper left-hand corner of the label lists the key features of the appliance. These are the same features that are found on the similar models that make up the range of estimated yearly operating costs further down on the label.

Maker, Model and Size

The upper right-hand corner provides information on the manufacturer, model and size, which will help you compare different units of the same capacity.

Estimated Yearly Operating Cost

The big black number in the middle of the label is the estimated yearly operating cost, calculated using the national average price of electricity. Use this number to help you find the most energy-efficient model.

Cost Range of Similar Models

Below the estimated yearly operating cost is a line graph that shows you the range of operating costs of similar models to help you determine if there’s a more efficient model or a slightly less efficient model that’s less expensive.

Estimated Yearly Electricity Use

The big black number on the bottom of the label tells you how much electricity the appliance will require each year, based on typical use. Multiply this number by your local electricity rate to get a more accurate idea of how much you’ll pay to operate the appliance over the course of a year.

Energy Star Logo

If the Energy Star logo appears on the bottom right-hand corner of the label, the appliance meets strict energy requirements outlined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy. You can rest assured that this model will use considerably less energy and produce fewer emissions than similar models.

Keep in mind that an appliance that costs more may actually save you money over the life of the unit, depending on how efficient it is. Before you shop for your appliance, find out what your local electricity rate is. Use the Estimated Yearly Electricity Use to get a fairly accurate estimate of the cost of operating the appliance, and compare that to more and less efficient models to help you make an informed decision about the best model for your budget.