It sounds like the job of a superhero. Help save the environment! How? By using the Eco Mode feature on Samsung's over-the-range microwaves. The manufacturer's green claim got the experts at Consumer Reports wondering how much energy Eco Mode would save you. Here's what we found.
The claims. "Use Eco Mode and help save the environment, power as well as money," according to Samsung's website, adding that standby power is reduced. Lowe's sells Samsung microwaves and its site simply says, "Eco Mode reduces standby power."
The check. Our latest tests of microwaves include two Samsung over-the-range microwaves, model SMH1926[S], $360, from Lowe's, and model SMH1927[S], $400. We found that selecting the Eco Mode feature shuts off the microwave's time display and possibly other internal power drains but the energy usage reduction was small. Based on our limited test and assuming the reduction is achieved 24/7, we estimate savings of about $2 a year using the national average electric rate of 11.8 cents per kilowatt hour.
Bottom line. There are easier and much better ways to save energy and money, such as replacing incandescent bulbs with CFLs or LEDs that use a fraction of the electricity to provide the same brightness. If your washer is on its way out, take a look at high-efficiency top-loading washers and front-loaders. They use less water and their faster spin cycle removes more water than conventional top-loaders, reducing the amount of time clothes spend in the dryer. Our ratings of washers and CFLs and LEDs will help you find the best one for your budget.
As for microwaves, our top-rated over-the-range model is the Kenmore Elite 8852, $550. It doesn't boast an eco cycle but was a standout in our tests of more than 100 microwaves because of its even heating, defrosting and excellent venting. The Samsungs with Eco Mode also heated and defrosted foods well, but exhaust venting was only fair, which helped keep them off the list of top picks.