Homefix: Dwight Barnett answers home-improvement questions. This week's topic is on replacing old kitchen appliances with energy-saving appliances.

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Q: I recently saw some information that advised people to get rid of old refrigerators for newer energy-efficient models. Does this have anything to do with energy savings, or are they just trying to sell new refrigerators?

A: Some sources estimate that an older refrigerator uses three times the energy of the newer Energy Star-rated models, but the sources did not take into account the age, size or model of the refrigerator. You can discover how much energy your old refrigerator is using by visiting the Energy Star website (www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?fuseaction=refrig.calculator) and entering the information requested. To find the energy rates in your state, if they are not on your energy bill, go to www.eia.gov.

I have seen estimates that up to 9 percent of your annual energy use is in refrigeration, 44 percent in heating/cooling, 25 percent for appliances, 14 percent for hot water and 7 percent for lighting for a total of 99 percent. I really don’t know where the other 1 percent goes.

In addition to purchasing Energy Star-rated appliances, turning the thermostat down 1 degree for eight hours will lower your energy use for heating by 1 percent. Changing furnace filters regularly also will conserve energy. So will caulking around the exterior of windows and doors and replacing the weatherstrips of exterior doors.

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Dwight Barnett is a certified master inspector with the American Society of Home Inspectors. Write to him with home improvement questions at d.Barnett@insightbb.com.

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