We’ve spent some time talking about smaller electronics in your home. Now let’s move on to some of the larger appliances. Just how much energy do your household appliances use? For most households, appliances make up about 20% of all home energy usage. That’s why using energy-efficient appliances can go a long way toward reducing your energy bills. When you’re buying appliances, keep in mind that they actually have two price tags. The cost to purchase and the cost to operate. For example, an Energy Star qualified refrigerator can save you more than $35 per year on your electric bill and an Energy Star qualified clothes washer can save you nearly $60 per year. Since major appliances can often last more than 10 years, the energy savings can really add up over time.
Although we’ve mentioned the Energy Star label several times already, we haven’t really said what it means. The Energy Star label shows that a product meets the energy efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy. In other words, by purchasing a product with the Energy Star label, you know you’re getting a more energy-efficient model compared to other similar models.
While shopping for new appliances, it’s also a good idea to look for EnergyGuide labels like this one. These labels can be very useful since they give you a pretty good idea of what it costs to run that appliance over the course of a year and obviously, the less it costs to run an appliance, the better. At this time, we’ll look at several ways to use your appliances more efficiently. Specifically, we’ll look at the appliances in your home that use the most energy. Your refrigerator, washer, dryer, dishwasher, and stove.
Refrigerators and Freezers. Set your refrigerator between 37 and 40 degrees and your freezer at 0 degrees. Make sure the door seals are air-tight. Leaking air can dramatically lower energy efficiency. When you’re looking for something to eat, only keep the door open for a short time. Vacuum the coils with a soft brush attachment every three to six months, this will help your refrigerator or freezer run better and more efficiently. If you need to defrost your freezer manually, do it often. Frost build up of more than a quarter of an inch, can make your freezer less efficient. Don’t put a refrigerator or freezer on your porch or in a garage. Also, it’s a good idea to keep them out of direct sunlight and away from heat sources, like your oven. Remember, if you’re refrigerator gets hot, it has to work harder to keep your food cold.
Washers and Dryers. Most of the energy used to wash clothes, comes from heating the water. You can easily make your washing machine more efficient by avoiding hot water and instead using warm or cold water for washing and rinsing. Hot water, however, may still be needed for heavily soiled loads or if you have an illness in the family. For some items washed in warm or cold water, you may want to add a disinfectant such as chlorine bleach, if hot water is not used. If possible, wash only full loads of laundry. Washing one large load uses less energy than washing several small loads. If you have to wash a small load, adjust your washing machine to use less water.
If you can, dry your clothes outdoors on a clothesline or drying rack. You can avoid wrinkles by hanging your clothes in the bathroom while you shower. If you use a dryer, try to fill it, but not overload it. If you need to do two loads, do the second load right after the first one while the dryer is still warm. Clean the lint filter in your dryer after each load and occasionally check the outside exhaust for any clogs. Don’t put your dryer in an unconditioned area, such as a garage or front porch. Naturally, if your dryer is cold it has to work harder to warm your wet clothes. If you’re looking for a new washer, energy-saving clothes washers use 35 to 50% less water and use about 50% less energy per load.
Dishwashers. Washing dishes by hand may use more water than washing in the dishwasher, especially if you let the water run as you wash. Scrape off excess food before loading dishes in dishwashers. Pre-rinsing dishes isn’t usually necessary and may be a waste of water. Try to only wash full loads in the dishwasher. Run the machine when it’s full, but not overloaded. The rinse/hold setting on the dishwasher uses from three to seven gallons of hot water each time it’s used. Don’t use this setting when you only need to clean a few dishes.
10% of the energy used in dish washing can be saved by not using the dry cycle. Instead, just let the dishes air dry. Newer water-efficient models average six to seven gallons per load versus 14 or more in older models.
Ovens and Ranges. If you’re cooking small meals, don’t heat up the entire oven. Instead, save time and energy by using a stove top burner, an electric frying pan, a crock pot, or the microwave. If you need to preheat your oven, don’t let it warm up longer than necessary. Set a timer so you’ll know when it’s ready to use. While cooking, don’t check on your food too often. Every time you open the Garage Door, you waste heat and energy. Also, using covered pans will make food cook faster. For efficiency, try to cook several items in the oven at the same time. Finally, never use the oven to heat your kitchen. Heating your home with an oven is not only inefficient, but it can be dangerous.
Since appliances use about 20% of our home energy, it’s a good idea to make them as efficient as we can by purchasing Energy Star qualified appliances and using them economically, you can make sure your hard-earned money works hard for you.
Electronics and Appliances Need To Be Turned Off Completely
How many of your electronic devices are still on even after you turn them off? Many appliances and electronics, such as your computer, VCR, TV, stereo, and cellphone charger, still use some power even after you’ve turned them off. In fact, up to 70% of the power used by electronics is drawn while their turned off, but still plugged in. When devices, like cellphone chargers, aren’t being used, consider unplugging them, or to make it even easier to shut down electronics, think about using a power strip. To further reduce the energy we waste, it’s a good idea to purchase Energy Star qualified devices and, in particular, to look for devices with power management features. For example, some printers with automatic power down features can reduce their power usage by 65%. If you have a computer, be sure to have it automatically go into sleep mode when you’re not using it or, better yet, shut it off completely.