Disposing of appliances can be a hassle on a good day. When remodeling for energy efficiency, though, proper disposal is a necessary task. Making your home more energy-efficient helps the environment. You should use eco-friendly disposal methods as well.
However, where does one take an old refrigerator or stove, and still keep the environment safe? Fortunately, homeowners have plenty of options when disposing of appliances and other household items. Best of all, these options keep the environment, and humanity itself, in mind.
First, though, it’s important to understand why high-efficiency appliances are vital in protecting the Earth.
What’s the Big Deal About High-Efficiency?
There are two major benefits of a high-efficiency home: financial savings and environmental friendliness. Naturally, appliances that use less energy require less power to run. That’s less power you have to draw, which means a smaller energy bill.
Many older appliances waste large amounts of energy. This includes low-efficiency washers that waste energy and water. Plus, old kitchen appliances can lack proper heat control and shielding. All of those wasted utilities are money down the drain. Thanks to modern technology, high-efficiency appliances consume fewer resources while doing a better job.
Finding high-efficiency appliances is a simple task. Look for devices that are Energy Star certified. The EPA provides this certification to appliances that meet stringent efficiency requirements.
Of course, high efficiency doesn’t end with appliances. If you’re renovating for improved efficiency and environmental friendliness, there are several favorable options. For example:
- Old lightbulbs use 90% more energy than new LED bulbs.
- Single pane or old windows with poor seals can bleed energy through heat and cold throughout the year.
- Smart lights and thermostats offer programmable schedules to conserve energy at night.
Improving a home’s energy efficiency is usually an ongoing task. Starting simple is often a smart way to begin. Update your light bulbs and clean your HVAC vents for a straightforward beginning. From there, determining what appliances to replace first becomes the next question.
Old or outdated appliances make excellent choices for replacement. However, some appliances use much more power than others, and may thus make more ideal targets for replacement. Here are some of the more commonly upgraded appliances and how to dispose of them.
In today’s world of technology, most houses contain countless appliances. Hairdryers, toasters, and fans are just some of the more simple electronics that cost money to run. And that doesn’t even count the large appliances and systems that homes need to function.
When it comes to appliances, some are much less efficient than others. Because of this, these are great targets to replace with more efficient models. Note that some of these appliances run almost constantly, and others are only used situationally. Therefore, a homeowner can reasonably determine which appliances should go first by combining efficiency and use rate.
Central air conditioners and furnaces often make up a large portion of a home’s energy usage. Depending on the climate, these systems might be running every hour of the day. On average, these systems use more than 3,000 watts per hour. It can cost almost $500 a year to run a central air conditioner.
Furnaces and heating systems can cost even more. It takes more energy to heat a house than to cool it. Homes in cold climates can thus see their heating bills outpace their cooling bills, especially with an outdated furnace and HVAC system.
While there are several energy-efficient models available, replacing these systems is a pain.
Not only are they large and bulky, but air conditioners and furnaces in particular contain dangerous chemicals and refrigerants. These can be harmful if mishandled. In many instances, a safe option involves asking an HVAC professional to disconnect the lines and prepare the units for removal.
Once these systems are ready for replacement, always consider recycling. This keeps the chemicals out of landfills. As well, there are many recycling and reclamation programs for old HVAC units. Most every municipality has local recycling centers that accept appliances.
You can haul the units yourself, or use a junk removal service. Some will remove these appliances from your home and take them to recycling centers. Others will pick them up off the curb.
Washers and Dryers
Washers and dryers are another set of necessary appliances found in most homes. They can also drain a lot of funds if they aren’t operated efficiently.
It takes electricity to pump and heat the water, spin the drums, and drain the washer. On average, each load of laundry costs around $0.75 to wash and dry. That may not seem much for a single-occupant home, but a family of four can generate plenty of laundry throughout the week.
Washers and dryers are consistently improving in efficiency. High-efficiency washers use less water per load. And while dryers lose efficiency due to heating, newer models still use less energy than before.
Replacing a washer and dryer has many disposal options. Charities often accept units in good condition. There are typically manufacturer-based recycling programs, as well. This ensures that your old appliances go on to help another home’s efficiency.
If no other option exists, then recycle or scrap them. Some services will pick up your old units. Due to their size, hiring a removal service is often the wisest (and safest) option.
Refrigerators and freezers are always running. To run at the highest efficiency, they must operate within their intended temperature ranges. Aside from turning a dial, most standard refrigerators can’t control these temperatures.
Like washers and dryers, though, newer units are increasingly more efficient. There are even smart fridges that monitor temperature and humidity for ultimate efficiency and food safety.
Refrigerators can be expensive, but high-efficiency models should cost less than $10 a month to use. These energy savings can recoup the high initial cost well before the next upgrade.
Like HVAC units, removing a refrigerator can be a challenge. In addition to their bulk, they also contain dangerous refrigerants. In most areas, this means recycling is the only option.
Junk removal services can handle your old fridge alongside that outdated HVAC system. However, you may also consider donating your fridge to local charities. As long as it is in good, clean condition, it may find use in the home of someone less fortunate.
Alternatively, many appliance manufacturers offer reclamation services for old units. Contact the manufacturer to find out the relevant details. This is an excellent way to ensure your old fridge becomes a high-efficiency model for someone else.
Replacing a microwave oven isn’t a difficult task. While some models have many bells and whistles (and the price tag to match), microwave ovens are usually efficient machines.
On average, microwave ovens only cost about $25 a year, and they use three times less monthly energy than stoves. Plus, they usually get the same job done much quicker than a stove.
Of course, no one should switch all their cooking to the microwave. A high-efficiency microwave oven, though, is a simple way to ensure that you’re not wasting money.
Getting rid of a microwave is fairly simple, as well. As long as it’s clean and in good condition, consider selling it on local online markets. Like other appliances, it may also find a new home through donation.
Some manufacturers take microwaves for reclamation, but recycling centers should have no problems accepting them. Still, contact your local recycling locations to make sure.
Compared to other food-cooking appliances, gas and electric ranges cost the most to use per hour, and they take nearly the longest to cook food. While not terribly inefficient, using a high-efficiency unit will keep the costs as low as possible.
Gas stoves require less energy than an electric model, but they still suffer from lost heat and other areas of inefficiency. No matter the make or model, replace it with a high-efficiency model when possible.
When you do, follow the same disposal advice as with other appliances. Contact a professional to disconnect the gas if you have a gas range. Some junk removal services will remove the units from your home and take them to recycling centers. Other services will pick them up from the curb.
If still in good condition, local charities or appliance consignment shops will take stoves. Or, you can load them up yourself and take them to a recycling center. When you dispose of items responsibly, the environment benefits.
Even small appliances can use a replacement now and then. Fortunately, smaller appliances are often more readily accepted for donations or resale.
Commonly sought-after appliances include:
- Slow cookers
- Coffee makers
- Sewing machines
- Light bulbs
- Computers and printers
When upgrading these or other small appliances, look to donate or sell them as your first option. As long as they are in good condition, most small appliances will find new homes through donations or sales.
Recycle any broken items. Some manufacturers offer recycling programs. If not, include it with your other things on your next trip to the local recycling center.
Getting Rid of Other Household Items
Keeping items out of the landfill is always the primary goal of getting rid of your stuff. Landfills are massive sources of atmospheric pollution. Plus, no appliance is biodegradable. This means that the old blender will remain in the dump for decades or longer.
Like major appliances, one can donate, sell, or recycle most household items. Indeed, we should do whatever possible to keep them out of landfills.
1. Try Resales or Donations
Check with local charities, or your local Habitat for Humanity ReStores for donation information. These ReStores accept new or gently used appliances and other household items, and then resell them to those in need. These proceeds then go back into the charity, making these donations count twice.
Still, some items may fetch a lot of money on the secondary market. Vintage clothes, jewelry, and even electronics have bustling online marketplaces. This option is a sound decision for those with collections or clearly valuable items that need to go.
2. Recycling Options
Of course, a broken item is less likely to find another home. This doesn’t mean sending it to the dump. Instead, recycle as many of your broken, outdated, or otherwise unable-to-be-donated items as possible.
As long as there are no hazardous materials within, you can drop off most household items at the recycling center. As with appliances, some products may feature manufacturer recycling options. Others may require some setup before recycling. For example, remove all batteries before recycling, as batteries must be specially recycled.
3. Disposal as a Last Resort
In most cases, sending items to a landfill is harmful to the environment. For many, though, landfill usage is unavoidable. Some items can only go to a landfill even when using the best recycling habits.
Sometimes, you aren’t allowed to recycle an item. Food packages always go to the landfill due to contamination restrictions. The same is true for other organic waste. However, many fruit and vegetable scraps make great backyard compost, which is much better than having them sit in a dump heap.
Other items, like renovation debris or yard waste, may require specialized disposal methods. Some construction debris, like concrete, can’t go to a landfill. And other scraps in good condition often find more use after donation. Like organic scraps, yard waste can turn into compost, but often, it will go to the landfill where it will naturally decompose.
High-efficiency appliances save money and help the environment. They use less energy than older models, which benefits your wallet and the Earth. If an appliance upgrade is near, use Energy Star-rated appliances to guarantee the highest efficiency.
When it comes to disposing of your old things, try to pass an item along so it will continue its life. Donations can help many in need, and donated appliances can change someone’s entire lifestyle.
Resale and recycling are also valid disposal methods for any appliance and other household goods. Keeping the home’s landfill and energy use as low as possible is a great way to reduce costs and your carbon footprint. Plus, you’ll enjoy the knowledge that your old items helped someone else.