Life in the Green Lane

Environmental journalist Candice Batista shares video clips and eco-savvy advice from her TV show, A Greener Toronto.

As long as you’ve got appliances in your home you’re eventually faced with the fact that one of them may break down. Fixing it is usually the better option as it reduces garbage in our landfills. If the cost to repair a household appliance is more than half the price of a new product, you’re better off buying a new one as advances in energy efficiency mean the new machine will save you more money in the long run as it reduces energy costs. When it comes to your fridge, repairs can be costly. In this case a new model is the better choice. New refrigerators consume up to 75 per cent less energy than those made before 2001. When buying a new fridge go for a freezer top instead of a side buying side by side model and make sure its energy star certified. Expect it to last about 14 years. In terms of your dishwasher, its best to replace it. Newer models use much less water and have energy efficient motors. Most of them also have sensors that determine the length of the wash cycle, making them 25 percent more efficient. When choosing a new dishwasher, make sure it has a light wash or energy saver cycle and expect it to last you about 9 years. You might be surprised to know that hand washing dishes is not the best option as it takes up too much hot water. Opt for a full load in the dishwasher instead. When it comes to your dryer, it’s better to fix it rather than replace it. They last about 13 years and most of them do have moisture sensors, which make them function quite well. If you are looking for a new dryer look for a moisture sensor in the drum, as opposed to the exhaust fan, it will shut off a little sooner and save slightly more energy. Most dryers do consume a lot of energy so a line dryer or a clothes rack is the greenest option. For your washing machine, consider replacement first if you have a top loader. They use much more water than a front loader, also look for one with an energy star label on the front. They do cost a little more but circulate the clothes in a shallower pool of water, they use less water and heat and will save you money in the long run. Onto the water heater now. By switching to a high efficacy gas model, you can save up to 50 percent in energy costs . If you have a gas system it depends on how old it is though. If your gas hot water heater is more than 10 years old, consider replacement. The greenest option though is an on demand or tank less system. All that means is that the water that is circulated is going through a large coil and heated only when needed. Keep in mind, they are not energy star certified, but they use 60 % less energy, saving you about 1800 dollars a year. Running an air conditioner costs a lot of money and they use a great deal of energy. If your ac breaks down and it’s over 10 years old, you should replace it. That goes for a window a model and central air. Getting rid of old appliances is difficult. The worst thing to do is leave yours at the curb. They end up in landfill and add to our growing problem of too much trash. In Toronto you can call companies like or visit the city’s website, they have some great ideas as to how you can get rid of your ailing appliances. You can also visit to learn more about The Ontario Power Authority’s “great refrigerator roundup program." The bottom line is, before you replace any household appliance, do your homework to ensure your ailing appliances end up in the appropriate place. Eco Candy.