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Energy efficiency is the number-one attribute that consumers seek when purchasing new home appliances, according to a survey by Underwriters Laboratories (UL).

While more than half of US homeowners (57 per cent) ranked energy efficiency as one of their top two considerations, safety was not at the top of the list.

The majority of respondents admitted that they do not always look for a third-party safety certification, such as the UL Mark, on new appliances.

Products that bear the UL Mark have been tested to UL’s rigorous safety standards and are found to be free of foreseeable safety hazards.

In the coming months, many consumers will consider purchasing new appliances thanks to the US government’s USD300m (GBP183m) rebate programme, encouraging the purchase of energy-efficient appliances.

The state-run programmes will offer cash rebates to consumers who buy new qualified home appliances.

Homeowners and other consumers can use this opportunity to make sure that the appliances they bring into their homes meet safety standards.

Simin Zhou, vice-president and general manager of UL’s Appliances, HVAC/R and Components business unit, said: ‘It’s understandable that consumers are focused on cost and energy savings when purchasing home appliances in today’s struggling economy.

‘Energy efficiency is an important attribute, but family safety also needs to be part of the decision-making process to avoid potential dangers,’ he added.

The most common risks associated with home appliances are electrical, fire or mechanical hazards.

A 2009 National Fire Protection Association report states that in 2006, US consumers reported approximately 17,700 home fires involving clothes dryers or washing machines, resulting in 15 deaths, 360 injuries and USD194m in property damage.

Zhou continued: ‘A UL Mark on a home appliance provides peace of mind because it means the product has been tested and certified to meet the highest standards in safety certification.

‘Keeping appliances clean and only using them as intended also can go a long way towards preventing home-appliance hazards or injuries,’ he said.

Checking appliances for potential hazards and/or the lack of a third-party safety certification mark will help consumers determine if their current appliances are sufficient or it is time for a new purchase during the upcoming state rebate programmes.

Consumers can learn more about the State Energy-Efficient Appliance Rebate Program and understand appliance safety by visiting UL’s website.

Online content will be updated regularly throughout the duration of the state rebate programmes and beyond.

Consumers can find out when their state programme starts and ends, what products qualify for the rebate programme and how much money they will receive if they upgrade one or more of their current appliances.

UL also explains how product features, brands and style considerations can still be factored into safe-appliance purchases.

‘Consumers may not always worry about safety risks in their homes, but now they’ll know how to keep their current appliances safe for continued use and make smart decisions when purchasing new ones,’ said Zhou.

The appliance safety survey was conducted by KRC Research on behalf of UL between 15 October and 19 October 2009 via telephone.

The survey was administered to 1,391 US adults.

UL (Underwriters Laboratories)

UL is a global independent safety science company offering expertise across five key strategic businesses:

  • Product safety
  • Environment
  • Life and health
  • University
  • Verification services

Our breadth, established objectivity and proven history mean we are a symbol of trust and enable us to help provide peace of mind to all.

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