Buy all new energy/fuel-efficient products or keep using???


Sep 20, 2013
I'm trying to change the way I live by purchasing things that are energy efficient. I know it will cost alot of money but as long as it will create less pollution and save me money in the long run. Here's my plan:

-Replace all CFL bulbs with LED bulbs
-Replace 6-year-old Briggs and Stratton lawn mower for a more fuel efficient Honda Mower
-Replace 7-year-old Toyota Camry for a brand new Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid
-Build computer with Platinum rated PSU
-Replace 10-year-old gas furnace, air conditioner, and water heater with efficient ones
-Replace all windows and doors
-Energy Star rated Washer, Dryer, refrigerator, microwave

Would you invest $50,000-$80,000 on energy efficient products now or would you wait until the product breaks until you purchase an energy efficient product?
I believe in general, it will take YEARS to recoup the costs. Also, as pointed out, in some cases, you're creating landfill garbage.

Existing car could be sold, of course, and if you've got an existing PC, can sell that. Appliances may be similar.

I think when I did a quick analysis of the math, in terms of replacing my 1987 Ford Crown Victoria with a 2016 Toyota Prius, assuming a slightly increased price of fuel, the price of the new car, and the reduced fuel consumption, but the increased insurance costs, I came up with something like a decade to break even - but it's been a while, so don't hold me to that.


Dec 31, 2011
You could also do everything possible to minimize the use of these items. I think that would have a greater effect in the long run than just replacing things. You also have to take into account the amount of energy, etc. that is used to create the new items. I remember reading about the Prius when it came out. The lithium for the batteries was mined in Chile, then sent to China to be processed and placed in batteries. They were then sent to Japan for the electronics and then to the US for delivery to the customer. That was a lot of energy used just to ship the components of the batteries across the Pacific twice.


It kind of depends on how energy inefficient / efficiency gain a product has.

I believe windows, especially if the old ones are just single pane and you have a lot of them. Are a good candidate for immediate replacement. As they cut down on the need for both heating and AC. Also make the house a bit quieter too from outside noise.

For a car its generally best to drive whatever you have until its dead and then transition to a new vehicle. Though if you commute a lot and gas prices are high where you live getting a hybrid sooner might be a good idea simply from a day to day pocket book reason. When gas prices really spiked up few years back it really hurt people to the point they had to make buy gas or something else decisions.

Light bubs are easy to do. Replace any pain the but ones (high ceilings) just you don't have to do it again for years and then just replace the rest as they burn out.
CFL or LED bulbs is a good idea over incandescent bulbs. Not only due to their innate efficiency but also they put out much less heat which means the air conditioner runs less. If there is a heat output difference LED might be better than CFL but otherwise just use LED as replacements. Actually, fluorescent fixtures aren't bad now with the new electronic ballasts. They use less energy, don't put out the heat of the old transformer ballasts, don't flicker at all, and the bulbs last longer. That's what I use in my garage.

Get an electric lawn mower. A couple of things happened together where my gasoline mower was about worn out and starting to smoke and a washing machine tub rusted through so I put the washing machine motor on the gasoline mower frame as a test. I didn't think I would like the extension cord but found it's no problem. I had to do a little work on the electric motor to get the blade height and motor attachment correct but I've been using it for 13 years now and never have a problem starting it:) The mower frame already had a rear bagging attachment so it has worked out well.

If you need a new car, do it. If it's paid for, drive it into the ground but do the regular maintenance. Keep in mind that your insurance is going to go up with a new car. I'm one that drives my cars into the ground and then buys a new one from the dealership. Otherwise it's not worth the expense. My current vehicle it at +230K miles, running fine, and still gets the same mileage as when it came off the dealer's lot. I keep a spreadsheet on the repairs and maintenance and over 24 years it averages out to $1.00 a day, excluding tires and fuel. The down side is you get tired of the same old car. I can live with that if it means no car payment. Also after 100K miles reduce your insurance to the minimum with no collision. If it's in a wreck, the insurance company is going to total it anyway over 100K miles so there's no sense in paying for collision insurance.

I assume you can replace your desktop PSU. Not knowing what you have makes it impossible to know if it will actually save you anything.

Do the windows and doors with double pane glass before doing the furnace, A/C, and water heater. We just had Anderson windows put in and I like them a lot. I'm not yet sure they will pay for themselves but if electricity keeps going up they probably will.

We recently (June) had a new furmace A/C system installed. We didn't do it for efficiency but our old one (1991 when the house was built), that I had been patching up for a few years, was just worn out so we got a whole new system when the compressor went out. You'll need to do the calculations for your location to determine if the highest SEER is worthwhile in your location and at your utility rates.

Personally, I'd wait to replace the appliances and go with high efficiency on the replacements. Energy Star is more a marketing term than any guarantee of efficiency. Even the Energy Star units vary widely. It only guarantees a minimum efficiency.

Overall, replace things as needed but do the energy efficient home improvements as soon as you can.


Wait until they break. But it also depends on use.

For evil incandescent lightbulb in the attic that is used for 1 hour/year...leave it until it dies.
A kitchen light that is used 4-5 hours every day? Change it now.

Windows and doors? How old are they? How bad are they?

7 year old Toyota? Drive it until it dies. It can look to my 1997 F-150 (240k miles), and my wifes 2006 Subaru(160k miles) for inspiration.

10 year old water heater? Close to dying anyway, so change...

But remember...buying 'new' often generates landfill waste.

Phillip Corcoran

A praiseworthy cause, but the sensible time to change to a more eco-freindly alternative is when your existing items break or wear out - - - unless you can find them a good home whilst they are still in working order rather than them being prematurely scrapped.

Theoretically I agree, but I don't think this should be factored in. Can we say that non-electrics and non-hybrids do NOT have parts that deal with this insane level of shipping? I imagine if we had to catalog every part of a traditional gasoline engine car with a multi-gear transmission vs the Prius's hybrid system and its CVT for example (if you see the diagram of how simple it is, it's quite fascinating), it MAY come out to a wash.

The new car is manufactured and on the dealer lot already, so that would be the baseline.

Back to the original poster - do NOT quote me on this, but check Consumer Reports for lawn mowers. I've been told that electrics, which in the past used an extension cord, ran off the 120v outlet, and were still pretty lousy, have now gone to being rechargeable cordless units, and some of them outdo gasoline mowers. I was given a verbal 60-second summary, though, haven't read the article. This may make a difference, because, supposedly, lawn mower engines put out more pollution than the average gasoline car engine.

This article seems to back what I'd previously heard, though I'd probably search a bit more to confirm. (I think it's a few years out of date, though)

So, it seems like if there's a full electric mower that suits your needs, that might actually have almost as much impact as changing the car.

Olle P

Apr 7, 2010
Purely from an environmental perspective:

-Replace all CFL bulbs with LED bulbs
... When the CFL dies. There's little to no power saving unless you want less light.

-Replace 6-year-old Briggs and Stratton lawn mower for a more fuel efficient Honda Mower
... Better keep the old mower and later on go electric.

-Replace 7-year-old Toyota Camry for a brand new Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid
... in due time, but by then there will be better alternatives.

-Build computer with Platinum rated PSU
... Only if you don't have a PSU or the one you have is really bad with a maximum efficiency below 70%.

-Replace 10-year-old gas furnace, air conditioner, and water heater with efficient ones
... The air conditioner, maybe, but even better just turn it off.
The rest should still have many years of service to make up for the resources used in manufacturing (and future disposal).

-Replace all windows and doors
... if they're more than 50 years old.

-Energy Star rated Washer, Dryer, refrigerator, microwave
... if they're more than 20 years old.

* Minimising the intensity of use is good.
* Keeping and use over a long time is also good, because of the resources used in manufacturing and disposal.
* The energy used for shipping a smaller item is just about negligible though, when things are transported in containers across the sea. The main problem here is that the shipping industry use the cheapest crude oil available, with lots of pollution (sulphuric acid, nitrous gasses and particles) being spread.




You would need to be able to recoup $50-80k in energy savings within the lifespan of the appliance and also in a greater rate than if you invested the money in something else such as a mutual fund. In my parts, $80k would buy about 1.2 GWh of electricity or 40,000 gallons of gasoline. $80k in today's dollars would be what I pay for 40 years of power consumption for my entire 2 story 5 bedroom house, and 40,000 gallons of gasoline even in something like a 3/4 ton pickup truck would provide about 600,000 miles (50+ years worth) or travel. That's even before investing the money you would have spent on depreciating items that wear out, which makes the math even worse.

I personally have replaced all of the CFLs I had previously with LEDs, but that is because CFLs are slow to reach full brightness, cannot tolerate moisture, cannot be placed in enclosed fixtures, cannot tolerate cool temperatures, and are physically quite large for their light output. I had replaced many incandescents with CFLs because I could get a higher light output without exceeding the wattage rating of the fixture- e.g. a fixture rated for a 60 watt bulb can produce 800-850 lm with incandescents, about 900 lm with halogens or 1600 lm with a 23 watt ("100-150 watt replacement") CFL that is still small enough to fit in the fixture. An LED isn't any brighter than the CFL but like the incandescent starts near-instantly to full brightness in any temperature and can tolerate damp environments and enclosed fixtures. Currently I have mostly LEDs in the conventional screw-in A- and C-base fixtures and tubular T8 fluorescents in non-aesthetically-sensitive areas.
Side note: I have some CFLs that are ridiculously slow to reach full brightness, and some that reach it almost instantly.

Also, I have some that are outdoor in enclosed fixtures (though they aren't sealed against moisture) - I didn't do this because I knew "oh, they're tougher than what people say" but because I did NOT know any better. Remarkably, they've been holding up.

I am switching to LEDs for my more frequently used stuff, though, whereas I'm keeping CFLs that are still working in fixtures that get turned on only rarely.