After heating and cooling, appliances are a big contributor to energy costs. In fact, they can account for about 12% of your energy bill. To lower your costs, be smart. For example, in the kitchen, use smaller kitchen appliances whenever possible. Think microwaves vs. stove. Small stove burner vs. big stove burner. Toaster oven vs. big oven.
- If you’re thinking about a new, efficient refrigerator, you should know that refrigerators more than 10 years old could be costing you $100 per year to run.
- ENERGY STAR® refrigerators use at least 15% less energy than non-qualified models, and 40% less than models sold in 2001.
- Don't leave your refrigerator door open. Every time it's opened, much of its cool air escapes.
- A full refrigerator retains cold better and uses less energy than an empty one.
- Make sure your refrigerator and freezer doors automatically swing shut. If not, adjust the legs or feet so the refrigerator leans back just enough so the doors will close on their own.
- Check the seal on your refrigerator door by closing it on a dollar bill. If you can pull the bill out easily, it's time to replace the seal.
- Keep the refrigerator temperature set between 35-38°. Keep the freezer at 0°.
- Vacuum or dust the refrigerator coils twice a year to keep the compressor running efficiently.
Stove and Oven
- Shut off your oven a few minutes before food is done and let the residual heat finish the cooking.
- Use your oven light to check cooking progress to avoid opening the oven door. Much of the oven's heat escapes each time you open it.
- If you use your oven's self-cleaning feature, do so immediately after using the oven to reduce the time it takes for the oven to reach such a high temperature.
- Use your heat-producing oven later at night, or cook with a Crockpot.
- Use lids on pots and pans to reduce cooking times and reduce the amount of hot steam escaping into the air.
- Boiling water is as hot as it can get. Once you reach a boil, turn down the burner to maintain the temperature.
- Match the size of your burner with the size of your pan. Don’t use a large burner for a small pot or pan.
- Your microwave uses less energy than your stove.
- Use a toaster oven for baking rather than your large oven when you can. A toaster or convection oven uses 1/3 to 1/2 as much energy as a full-sized oven.
- If your dishwasher is old enough to drive, upgrade to a new, more efficient dishwasher. Newer models use about 70% less energy than they did in 1990.
- Run the dishwasher only with full loads.
- Allow dishes to air-dry.
- During hotter months, use your dishwasher’s timer to run later at night when it’s cooler. This way, heat that escapes won’t affect the temperature of your home while you're in the kitchen.
- Did you know that washing dishes by hand several times a day can use more hot water than using an energy-efficient dishwasher?
- Upgrade to a new, more efficient washer and dryer. Modern washing machines use about 70% less energy compared to 1990.
- The average American family washes about 300 loads of laundry each year. Washing 25% can save more than 3,225 gallons of water. So, wash only full loads of clothes.
- Wash in cold water – to save on heating water – and always use cold water to rinse.
- Don’t use more water than you need. Reducing your water level by just 10% can save nearly 1,300 gallons of water.
- Use the spin cycle on high to remove as much water as possible.
- During warmer months, use the heat-producing dryer later at night.
- Clean the lint screen every time you use the dryer. A clogged lint screen can make your dryer work harder - and it can be a fire hazard. Also, check your dryer vent and hose periodically to prevent buildup. This can also cause your dryer to use more energy and be a fire hazard.
- Use a clothesline or clothes rack to dry clothes whenever possible.
- Dry one load of clothes immediately after another to take advantage of a pre-heated dryer.
Buying New Appliances
- It pays to invest in energy efficiency. In some cases, the money you save in energy costs can pay back the purchase price in just a few years.
- Always read the Energy Guide label carefully. And, look for the ENERGY STAR logo. ENERGY STAR appliances are required to use 20% less energy than federal standards.
- Choose the capacity (especially with a heating and cooling system) that's right for your home and family. A system that’s too big wastes energy and costs you more money. A system that is too small can run more often and become overworked.
- Replace inefficient appliances, even if they're still working. A refrigerator from 2001 uses 40% more energy than a new, ENERGY STAR model.
- Shop for heating and cooling systems during the off-season. Many heating and cooling manufacturers offer significant rebates and promotions during seasonal sales. Plus, dealers may charge less for installation.
- Shop for appliances when prices are discounted. Appliance sales are often offered around holidays like July 4, Memorial Day, Labor Day and Christmas.
- Investigate new technology carefully. Some innovations, like convection ovens or argon-filled windows can lower your energy costs and make life more convenient. Others, such as commercial-grade kitchen appliances, might be merely expensive cosmetic enhancements.