OttawaEnergyAudit
Home

Contact Us


Our Services


Published Columns»
  •Economics of Portable Power
  •Vehicle Efficiency
  •Repair or Replace?
  •Being Water Wise
  •Heating and Cooling Alternatives
  •The Phantom Strikes Again
  •Appliance Comparison
  •Green Power
  •Read the Manual, Read the Meter
  •Small Is Beautiful
  •Kitchen Waste
  •Those Darn Numbers
  •Stringing You a Line
  •The Nuclear Roadshow
  •Smart Facts
  •How Low Can You Go?
  •Care and Feeding of CF Bulbs
  •Take an LED light for a spin
  •Showered with Feedback
  •The heat is on for new records
  •Charting the Changes
  •Will you be in hot water as the rates rise?
  •What about Solar?
  •Time shifting your load
  •Where do I start?
  •Think like Scrooge
  •Heating water can be a tankless job
  •Q: Should I buy a DC furnace fan?
  •Turning an Emergency into an Inconvenience
  •The Shock of the Bill
  •Recipe for Kitchen Cuts
  •Shedding some light on the subject
  •The phantom strikes


Your Consumption

   How to Read Your Meter  

   Quick Home Audit  

   Conservation  


Your Bill

   Cost Breakdown  

   Smart Meter Costs  

   Bill Simulator  


External Links


© 2004-2017 John Ford

 
Become an Educated Energy Consumer    OttawaEnergyAudit     Sunday 22 October 2017
Current Time-of-use pricing is: low at 14.477¢/kWh
Contact us now to book your audit.

Published Columns: May 2007
Curbing Your Consumption:
Repair or Replace?

By John Ford

When you bought an appliance a few decades ago, it was almost for life. They were built for heavy domestic use, and parts were easily replaceable. Not so true today.

When an appliance stops working the way it should, there is a temptation to order a new one, and send the old one to landfill.

Don't be too hasty. There are some questions to ask first. Can the appliance be repaired? Does it make sense from an economic view to repair or replace, and can I recoup those costs from the reduced energy consumption? What is the effect on the planet?

In a previous column I looked at the increased efficiency of appliances as sold in the last few decades, and the loss of efficiency over the years of use, such as the failure of refrigerator insulation and seals. But the quality has declined. More products use fewer durable steel parts, and more plastic parts. A dishwasher today may have few servicable parts, and may be a throw-away item.

Most new refrigerators and freezers will earn their keep with energy efficiency in only a few years. However, their lifespan can be as little as a quarter of the appliance they replace.

The new front-loading washing machines are now available in a range of quality price points, from equal to the cost of top-loaders, to over four times the cost. They are incredibly more efficient – both in energy and water use – and spin at a high enough speed to almost eliminate the use of a dryer. The change from top to front loading may be well worth the replacement costs.

Except for the whiz-bang timers and electronics in a new stove/oven, the new ones still work the same way, the efficiency is virtually the same, but the quality is lacking. I have also mentioned before that I listen to CBC's appliance repair call-in with Steve Brannan. He mentioned again just recently that new stoves are built just to reheat food, and he sees them fail when used for heavy use such as all day canning projects. Parts are still available to repair older stoves, which is very economic, and can easily be a DIY project.

There are also other considerations for replacement. When my fridge was replaced a few years ago, I had to measure the exact height front and back to ensure it would fit in the space. It slid in with just 1 mm of clearance on top. Wouldn't it be nice to have your appliances re-furbished with the latest high-efficiency innards so that little or nothing was sent to landfill? While it might seem more costly to do this, wouldn't it be cheaper in the long run?

What we really need are form factor standards for appliances, which use modular standard components. That way we get choice and value, along with increased efficiency as the technology improves.

John Ford is a technology consultant, owner of a small energy conservation business, and the Energy Advocate for the Green Party of Ontario.