If you’re buying or building a new home – or just making upgrades to your “home sweet home” – choosing some of the newer versions of electronics and appliances can save money on your utility bills for years to come.

While you know to look for appliances with the ENERGY STAR® label, you may not know that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has introduced a new distinction — ENERGY STAR Most Efficient — that recognizes products offering cutting edge energy efficiency as well as the latest in technological innovation.

The ENERGY STAR Most Efficient awards for 2015 include some great picks for homeowners who want ease of use, smart styling, and energy efficiency.

In most Texas households, the HVAC system gets a good workout. The Dave Lennox Signature Series includes both an air conditioner and a compatible furnace that were both recognized as an ENERGY STAR “best” for 2015. The AC boasts up to 18.5 SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) and a quieter fan motor.

The matching gas furnace features modulating gas heat and variable speed blower that keeps your home comfortable, quieter and “energy smart.” Both units work with the iComfort WiFi® Touchscreen Thermostat that lets you regulate cooling and heating from one centralized location.

When shopping for a clothes washer, choosing a front-loading machine (versus a top loader) saves water and energy. ENERGY STAR’s pick is the LG High-Efficiency Front Load Washer. Not only does it have a sleek design, it has TurboWash Technology — which saves you 20 minutes per load — and uses steam to reduce wrinkles, which reduces ironing time — always a bonus.

In the extra-large (24.6 cubic feet or more) refrigerator category, Samsung took the prize with four qualifying models. According to EnergyGuide estimates, most of these models rank in the top 50% for less energy usage — approximately 11% less than the average new refrigerator.

If you don’t need a big fridge, ENERGY STAR’s top-rated small unit is a skinny 11.4-cubic-inch Bosch that purportedly uses only 314 kilowatt hours of energy a year – almost half that of its extra-large cousins.

Besides the larger appliances, there are other electronic gadgets in just about every home that can be purchased new, tweaked or traded in to be more energy efficient.

  • Desktop computers and monitors require an electrical outlet that lets them suck energy all day long. However, because of longer battery life, laptops and tablets use only a fraction of the power. If you need the desktop configuration for certain things, keep it but unplug it when not in use. Then use the money saved on your utility bill to get a sporty little iPad or Kindle Fire.
  • Even though you recently switched all your light bulbs from the old incandescents to the compact fluorescents, you’ll want to do it again to get the new LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs. They cost as little as $5, last for decades, and use up to 85 percent less energy.
  • If you rushed out to buy an Ultra High-Definition TV (UHD), you might have gotten the great “4K TV” screen resolution, but at the cost of energy efficiency. Check to be sure your model meets ENERGY STAR Version 7 standards, or it could be using double the energy.
  • The ubiquitous cable TV box that probably sits on or close to one or several televisions in your household may be draining your wallet even more than the service itself. While there are efforts underway to improve the energy efficiency of the box, most continue to draw full power even when they’re “off.” Ask your provider for one that meets Version 4.1, the latest version recommended by ENERGY STAR.

If you really want to find out which of your gadgets are the worst offenders when it comes to hogging energy, get an electricity monitor meter. There’s one called the “Kill-a-Watt” Meter that’s about $20 and measures the energy each appliance or electronic device uses, both when they’re “on” and supposedly “off.” ™