Mama II posted a spiel about home energy conservation, and I was surprised to see she thought it necessary to spend big cash (i.e. thousands of dollars) to get Energy Star-rated appliances.
Since the butterfly lady and I moved into our home, we have had to buy a water heater, refrigerator, dishwasher, washing machine and dryer. We could use a new stove/oven, too. The only things we haven't had to replace are the air conditioner (but that was brand new when we bought the house and was included as part of the negotiation for the closing) and the furnace, which is not particularly efficient.
Our washer, dryer and fridge are all Frigidaire Gallery - the washer is an ultra-efficient front-loader (about $600). The dryer is your basic $279 model, but my research indicated dryers matter not for conservation. It works fine, though the starter knob was flimsy and has snapped. The fridge is fantastic, especially energy-wise. The piece of junk the seller left us with leaked and was a huge energy hog; this one barely registers on the electricity meter when it cycles on. It does not have an icemaker (isn't that what the little trays are for??) and it is your standard freezer-on-top sort, about $750, I think.
The water heater is totally run of the mill. Had I been building from scratch, I probably would have bought one of those snazzy tankless, on-demand heaters, but we probably will have to sell this house (and move) eventually, so why get something people around here aren't familiar with?
The A/C is a Trane. We mostly use a laptop for doing computer stuff. We don't watch a ton of TV (on our now-old-school Sony Trinitron, the last non-LCD TV I think we'll own).
What can I say? Our electric bills rarely go over $45 or $50 (I think that happened once, $50-plus), even in the 100-degree heat of summer. Most often, the power costs us about $35 or $40 a month.
The gas bill is another story. I notice that in the summer, the gas bill (when the furnace pilot is off) is $4.24, which is the basic rate. Just having the pilot on (as I did for one month the first year we lived here during non-furnace season) costs about $7 a month.
The gas company yaks a lot about how you should use gas to run the dryer and water heater. Wouldn't it be charming to get a gas bill that had $14 a month ($21 in furnace months) just in god damn pilot light costs?
Anyway, the gas bill runs from the aforementioned $4.24 four months a year to about $175 in the dead of winter. On the plus side, a significant portion of our house (one-third: the now fully occupy-able basement) is taken up by my studio, which means a small tax break on utilities. I think our anti-American Dream tax structure more than makes up for the small savings, but that is a topic for another post.
If I were building from scratch, you can be damn sure we'd orient our house to take advantage of the sun, use a ground-source geothermal heat pump, and have clotheslines in the loft of our home. But that is a topic for another day, too.