Appliances / Electronics
Appliances and other electronics represent an average of 27% of most energy bills.
Simple ways to save…
Practice the tips below to help maximize your home’s energy efficiency. And if you’re in the market for new appliances or electronics, look for the ENERGY STAR® label.
Most of the energy used by a dishwasher is for water heating, so be sure to only wash full loads to minimize the need for running additional cycles. Dishwashers purchased before 1994 use more than 10 gallons of water per cycle whereas ENERGY STAR® models are required to use 4.25 gallons per cycle or less1. So if you’re in the market for a new machine, consider an ENERGY STAR qualified dishwasher which on average is 5% more energy efficient and 15% more water efficient than standard models2. Also, to cut down on machine use, air dry dishes when possible instead of using your washers drying cycle.
You may already know that the harder your refrigerator or freezer has to work to stay cool, the more energy it uses. And that holding the door open wastes energy. But did you know there are other factors that affect how hard your refrigerator works? Here are a few tips that can help reduce your appliance’s energy use:
- Don’t set the temperature too cold. 35°-38° is recommended for the refrigerator and 0° for freezers.
- Ensure door seals are airtight. If you close a bill in the door half way and can easily pull it out, it’s not tight enough.
- Cover liquids and wrap foods. Uncovered, they release moisture making the compressor work harder.
- Defrost as needed. Frost shouldn’t exceed more than one-quarter of an inch.
- Clean the coils on the back of the appliance annually. This helps the compressor cool faster and run less frequently.
Fortunately today’s refrigerators are now using a lot less energy than older models due to recent improvements in insulation and compressors. For example, a new refrigerator with an ENERGY STAR® label uses at least 15% less energy than non-qualified models, 20% less energy than required by current federal standards, and 40% less energy than the conventional models sold in 20011. By replacing your old refrigerator with a new ENERGY STAR certified model, you can save between $35-$300 on energy costs over the lifetime of the refrigerator2. To find out exactly how much money you can save, check out the ENERGY STAR Savings Calculator.
The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that cooking accounts for 4.5% of total home energy use. By taking the actions below you can help maximize your energy efficiency when it comes to cooking and baking.
- Keep range-top burners and reflectors clean; they will reflect the heat better and work faster.
- Cover kettles or pans to help water boil faster; or use an electric kettle which uses less energy.
- Match the size of the pan to the heating element to avoid wasting energy. (For example, using a 6-inch pan on an 8-inch burner will waste 40% of the heat generated by the burner.)
- Use slow cookers, pressure cookers, small electric pans, toaster ovens, or convection ovens when possible. A toaster or convection oven uses 1/3 to 1/2 as much energy as a full-sized oven.
- Use an oven light, a thermometer or a timer instead of opening the oven door. Each time the door is opened the heat escapes and the temperature can drop 25 degrees which results in longer use time and wasted energy as the oven works harder to get back to the proper temperature.
- Clean the door seal on your oven so that it retains as much heat as possible.
In addition, it’s important to factor in the affects cooking and baking can have on heating your home.
- In the winter, the heat generated in your kitchen may be welcomed and enable you to give your furnace a break.
- On hot summer days, the heat from the kitchen can cause air conditioners to work harder and use more energy, making slow cookers and other small appliances even more appealing. Check out the article Can’t take the heat? Get out of the kitchen for more information about summer cooking and outdoor cooking alternatives.
To reduce the amount of energy used for washing clothes:
- Wash your clothes in cold water using cold-water detergents whenever possible. Even switching your temperature setting from hot to warm can cut a load’s energy use in half1.
- Wash full loads. If you are washing a small load, use the appropriate water-level setting.
Replace an old machine with an ENERGY STAR® certified clothes washer which uses about 40% less water and about 25% less energy than a regular washer2. They also have a greater tub capacity which means you can wash fewer loads to clean the same amount of laundry.
To reduce the amount of energy used for drying clothes:
- Dry full loads but avoid overfilling the dryer; a lack of air circulation can decrease efficiency.
- Dry towels, blankets and heavier cottons separate from lighter-weight items.
- Avoid over-drying your clothes. Some dryers make this easy by providing a moisture sensor option.
- Use the cool-down cycle to allow your clothes to finish drying with the heat remaining in the dryer.
- Clean the lint screen in the dryer after every load to improve air circulation and efficiency and use your vacuum cleaner periodically to remove any lint that may collect below the lint screen slot.
- Ensure your dryer vent is not blocked.
Consider air-drying clothes on clothes lines or drying racks.
Whether you work from home or not, you may be using more electricity than you realize when it comes to your home office equipment. Here are a few facts and tips to help maximize energy efficiency and cut down on electricity costs.
- Screen savers DO NOT reduce energy use. Be sure to turn off your computer monitor or set it to sleep mode if you plan on being away for more than 20 minutes.
- Shut down your computer and monitor completely if you’re going to be gone for more than two hours. There is a common misconception that equipment lasts longer if never turned off. The truth is most PCs reach the end of their life due to advances in technology long before the effects of being switched on and off can have a negative impact on them. The less time a PC is on, the longer it will “last.”
- Use the sleep mode or power management settings on your equipment. Power management features are not typically enabled at the time of purchase so you’ll likely need to go in and manually set them up. Visit ENERGY STAR for assistance activating power management on your computer. Learn More
- Laptops use much less energy than desktop computers but keep in mind that the AC adapter draws power continuously, even if the laptop is not plugged in so be sure to unplug it when not in use.
- Unplug monitors, printers and other accessories when not in use for extended periods to prevent them from drawing power even when shut off – an occurrence also known as Phantom Load. A power strip makes this easier by allowing you to flip a switch and cut off power to multiple electronics all at once.
- Unplug as many household electronics as you can when not in use such as home office electronics, DVD players, TVs, stereos and small kitchen appliances. Most devices draw power even when shut off or while they are in stand-by mode – an occurrence known as “Phantom Load.”
- Plugging home theater devices such as DVD players and TVs into power strips create an easy way to cut power to multiple electronics all at once.
- Unplug battery chargers when not in use or when the batteries are fully charged.