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Appliance Tips: Saving Energy and Money


  • A refrigerator is the biggest power consumer in most households. 
  • Here are some simple ways to improve it's efficiency:
  • Manual defrost refrigerators are generally more efficient than automatic defrost models, but only if they are properly maintained. The freezer should be defrosted if ice buildup is thicker than 1/4 inch.
  • Wait until food has cooled down before putting it inside the refrigerator.
  • Vacuum the coils at the back of your refrigerator twice a year to maximize efficiency.
  • Check the door gasket occasionally to be sure the seal isn't broken by debris or caked food.
  • Refrigerator should not be located near the stove, dishwasher, heat vents or exposed to direct sunlight. Check to be sure that air flow around your refrigerator is not obstructed.
  • One large refrigerator is cheaper and more efficient compared to two smaller ones. Getting rid of an old refrigerator is one of the largest single contributions you can make to lower your electric bills.

Buying a new refrigerator?
Refrigerators with fewer accessories are usually more efficient. In particular:

  • Icemakers and water dispensers use excessive energy and are not particularly useful.
  • Auto-defrost causes lower overall efficiency because heat is used to speed defrosting
  • The most efficient refrigerators are 16-20 cu ft, with freezer on bottom or top rather than on the side.

Electric Stove

  • Use burner which is the closest match to pot size. Heat is lost and energy is wasted if burner size is larger than pot size.
  • Use lids on pots and pans so you can cook at lower settings.
  • Keep drip pans under conventional coil burners clean. Don't line drip pans with aluminum foil - they can reflect too much heat and damage the elements.
  • Only preheat when baking.
  • Check your oven temperature. Use a separate oven thermometer to ensure your oven control is accurate.
  • Make sure the oven door seal is tight. Avoid opening oven door while baking - each time the door is opened, about 20% of the heat is lost.
  • Turn oven off a few minutes before food is ready, and let oven heat finish the job.
  • Pilot light and burner flame on gas stoves should be blue. If flame is yellow, ports need to be unclogged or adjusted. Ports can be cleared with pipe cleaners.
  • Use microwave. They use only 1/3 to 1/2 as much energy as conventional stoves.
  • 'Self-cleaning' ovens are more efficient because they are better insulated.

Washing Machine/Dryer

  • Be sure your clothes are dirty enough to really need washing. Standard washing machines use 40 gallons of water per load. The easiest way to save water and energy with washers is to use them less, so look for ways you can reuse clothing, towels, and linens between washing.
  • Match water level and temperature settings on your washer vis-a-vis the size of your load. Don't fill the whole tub for a few items. Newer machines have automatic water level settings which adjust to load size.
  • As much as 90% of the energy used by your washing machine is used to heat the water. For most washing applications, warm wash and cold rinse are just as effective as hot wash and warm rinse. The rinse temperature doesn't effect the quality of the cleaning.
  • Avoid using too much detergent. Follow instructions on the box. Over sudsing makes your machine work harder and use more energy.
  • Clean dryer lint screen after each use. Lint build up greatly reduces efficiency.
  • Overloading the dryer lengthens drying time. Clothes should dry in 40 minutes to one hour.
  • Keep the dryer exhaust vent on the outside of the house clean. It should be clear of cobwebs and lint. The movable shutters should move easily - they're designed to prevent cold air, heat, and insects from entering the vent when the dryer is not operating.
  • Dry multiple loads back to back. A dryer takes time and energy to warm up to drying temperature; stop-and-start drying uses more energy.
  • Using a clothesline, retractable clothesline, or indoor drying rack will save energy and reduce fabric wear on your garments.

Buying a new dryer?
Look for a model that comes with a sensor that automatically stops the dryer when the clothes are dry. Dryers with a 'cool-down' period also save energy.

Air Conditioning Unit

  • When turning on your air conditioner, avoid using the coldest setting. Let the air conditioner warm up for a while before lowering the temperature setting. The room will cool just as fast.
  • Keep leaves and other debris off the condensing unit, and gently brush webs and dust from condensing coils. Ensure that airflow is not obstructed; allow 18" open space clearance from the condenser.
  • If buying a new air conditioner, choose a model with an Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) of 10.0 or higher.
  • Maintain thermostat setting at a temperature not lower than 75 deg Far. (23.9 deg. Celsius). 
  • Keep thermostat efficient.
  • Locate air conditioning units at the coolest side of the rooms.
  • Keep the air conditioner's filters, condenser, evaporator, etc., clean.
  • Proper insulation cuts air conditioning costs; use blinds, shades or draperies to block direct sunlight.
  • Doors must be kept close at all times.

Computer and Home Office Equipment

  • Turn off the monitor when your computer is not in use. Over half of the energy used by the computer goes to the monitor, so turning it off will save significantly. A single monitor left switched on overnight can use the same energy as a laser printer producing 800 printed copies. And don’t be fooled by a screensaver – the computer is still working at full power to run this.
  • Turn equipment off when not in use (except your fax machine). Even machines on standby use up to 30 watts of electricity.
  • Printing can be the most energy-intensive step, so print only pages you need. Edit documents on-screen to save unnecessary printing. If you have a choice of printers, avoid using a laser printer for draft-quality printouts.
  • Re-use paper. Inkjet printers can easily accept used paper, so you can print on the unused side. Or keep discarded pages for jotting notes.

Buying a new computer?
Consider whether a laptop could meet your needs. Laptops use about half of the electricity consumed by typical desktop computers. When buying a laptop, look for systems comprised completely by 3.3-volt components (processor, memory, and LCD). These systems use 40-50% less energy than 5.0-volt systems, and are generally equipped with a lighter battery. Alternatively, look for a model with an Energy Star rating.

Buying a new printer?
Inkjet printers have low energy consumption, are inexpensive and permit the re-use of paper, saving costs and reducing environmental impacts. If you are buying a laser printer, look for one with an energy-saver feature, which reduces energy use when idle by over 65 per cent. Even when idle, laser printers consume between 30 to 35 per cent of their peak power requirements.