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While many new appliances continue to save energy through innovative design, new features in the design of these products actually increase energy consumption. In fact, some appliances use just as much power when off as they do when turned on, and some never turn off especially if they connect to the internet in some way or have a digital display.

Appliances, especially older ones, can contain harmful chemicals, like polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), mercury, ozone depleting substances, and oil, so recycling these items properly will protect the environment and human health.

Every appliance comes with two price tags: the purchase price and the cost of operating the product. ENERGY STAR certified appliances help consumers save money on operating costs by reducing energy use without sacrificing performance.

Policy and Goals:

As stated in King County's Sustainable Purchasing Executive Policy (CON 7-22-EP),

  • Buy ENERGY STAR–certified appliances

As outlined in King County’s 2020 Strategic Climate Action Plan,

  • King County will reduce normalized energy use in County-owned facilities by at least 12.5% by 2025 and 17.5% by 2030 (2014 baseline).
  • All appliance purchases by King County government shall be Energy Star qualified appliances, if an Energy Star rating is available for the type of appliance.

Best Practices

  • Turn off lights and appliances when not in use.
  • Unplug spare appliances not in use or use power strips to easily shut off the power to appliances that occurs even when they are switched off.
  • Regularly maintain appliances.
  • Replace refrigerator and freezer seals as needed to ensure a tight seal.
  • Clean refrigerator coils and seals and defrost freezer units.
  • Set the refrigerator temperature to 35°F and the freezer temperature to 0°F.
  • Use cold water in your clothes washing machines and run only full loads.
  • Do not overload dishwashers or washing machines.


  • durable appliances
  • energy- and water-efficient products
  • right size buying
  • appliances with an energy saving mode


  • appliances with unnecessary features or gadgets (will reduce chance of breaking and lower initial cost)

End of Life

  • recycle or donate "where available"

An EPA checkmark indicates a certification or standard is recommended by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Other Guidance

All major home appliances must meet the Appliance Standards Program set by the US Department of Energy. The Energy Guide label estimates how much energy the appliance uses, compares energy use of similar products, and lists approximate annual operating costs.

No current King County contract, since purchases typically fall under the $10,000 threshold. Use a P-Card for purchasing at a reputable appliance retailer and look for ENERGY STAR certified appliances. (Note: There is no ENERGY STAR label for residential ovens, ranges, or microwave ovens.)

Please consider both the purchase price and the operating cost when buying a new appliance. You'll be paying on that second price tag every month with your utility bill for the next 10 to 20 years, depending on the appliance. Refrigerators last an average of 12 years and clothes washers last about 11 years.

Contact Us

Phone: 206-263-9400

TTY Relay: 711

Fax: 206-296-7676