How to Buy An Energy Efficient Microwave

We’ve been talking a lot about energy efficiency and saving money on electricity lately. Because kitchen appliances eat up to 25% of your home energy costs we thought we’d start in the kitchen while starting a series about individual appliances.

Choosing an energy efficient microwave isn’t straightforward. Currently there’s no Energy Star rating for microwaves.

However, there are some general principles that you can follow if you want to get the most energy efficiency out of your microwave.

First, you want to look at the wattage. In general, a microwave that needs fewer watts will eat up less energy.

Most microwaves hover around 1000 watts. That’s a good, family sized microwave. If you only have one person to worry about you might look to a smaller microwave that’s rated at 650 to 800 watts.

Next, you want to see if you can find a model with sensors. Sensors help the microwave cook your food more efficiently.

Some individual microwave models may have other energy saving features. For example, the LG 1.6 cu ft. microwave turns off the display whenever the microwave isn’t in use, which drops power consumption.

According to power usage while in standby mode is the focus of new energy efficiency standards for microwaves. So while it’s hard to find this “shut-off” feature on a broad variety of microwaves now we predict you’ll see a lot more of them by 2016, when the new standards take effect. The new standards require microwaves to cut energy use in standby mode by 75%.

If you’re looking for a specific brand then the GE Profile 1 cu. ft 800 watt countertop model has both sensors and a low wattage to give you a reasonably efficient microwave. The LG 1.6 cu ft. model does have the display shut-off feature, but it doesn’t have sensors and it’s 1000 watts, so it may not be your best choice.

Microwave cooking is usually more efficient than cooking in your stovetop or oven, however, so while you should shop with an eye towards these three main factors this particular appliance can help you save money all on its own. Next week we’ll be exploring convection microwave ovens, and how they might allow you to replace stoves altogether for a much higher rate of energy efficiency.

Durham Electric has delivered high-quality, clean electrical services to the Raleigh-Durham area for over 25 years. Call us for a free estimate on any electric need you may have in your home.

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