Here we’ll try to look at your various home appliances and give you tips on how to use them more efficiently or provide alternatives.
WHEN BUYING ANYTHING – We always recommend looking for an Energy Star® rated product. To get this designation, a product is tested for its energy efficiency and compared to others in the same category. Only efficient models get approved. Many appliances also come with an Energuide label on them. This will list how much electricity the appliance is rated for over a year and bench mark it against others in the same category. See an example of an Energuide label below:
It keeps your food safe but can also use a lot of energy depending on it’s condition and how you use it. Here are some tips to get more from your fridge and freezer.
- Rule of One – When in doubt, simplify. Many households do not need multiple refrigerators or freezers. You may not even need a stand a lone freezer. If you can get by without the extras, you can save over $100 per year by just having one refrigeration device.
- Size Matters – Most refrigerators are likely purchased to fit into your kitchen. If you can’t live without a secondary fridge or freezer then make sure you don’t get one that’s bigger than what you need. That extra space means extra dollars in energy costs. Right size to your life.
- Goldilocks Zone – If you want to run your appliance properly, make sure it has an appropriate amount of food in there.
- Too Much – If you pack too much food in your refrigerator you restrict air flow which elongates the refrigeration/freezing time. Time equals money.
- Too Little – Having volume in the appliance helps it regulate it’s temperature. If all you have are a couple bottles of condiments in there, consider adding some closed bottles of water to help maintain the temperature. This works well if you’re going on vacation.
- Airtight is Alright – Your seals on your door have a lot to do with the efficiency of your unit. If you’re able to open your door with little to no resistance, then there is a likelihood that you have a bad seal…meaning air loss. Your refrigeration unit is forced to work more often to maintain temperature.
- Ice it – Refrigerators with automatic ice makers will use more energy than ones without it.
They can keep your home dry to avoid moisture caused mold in the home.
- Shiny & New – Newer Energy Star units can run at around 50-60W while older units can use a lot more. We’ve tested some old humidifiers that ran at over 200W so be aware of what you’re running. New units can sometimes be purchased for under $100 so if you have a dehumidifier that looks like it’s old enough to drive, you may want to consider a new one.
- Automate – Most humidifiers have sensors to detect how much humidity is in the air. Unless you have a severe problem with moisture that requires 24/7 operation, use the auto function to turn it on when humidity levels necessitate it. The Energy Star website recommends setting your dehumidifier to 30 percent to 50 percent humidity in warm weather and 30 percent to 40 percent humidity when you are running your heater.
While microwaves may consume a lot of energy when in use, they also cook very quickly, so overall you’ll cut energy usage. Microwaves are exceptionally efficient at heating most vegetables, popping popcorn and re-heating left-overs from the previous night’s dinner. The main drawback of a microwave is it’s inability to cause searing or crisping.
- Microwaves work most efficiently when they are clean – Any debris from previously heated food that is stuck on the wall will attract the attention away from your intended meal. Keep your microwave clean.
- Baked potatoes – Why wait 45 minutes for your oven to do the trick when you can get it done in 12 or less? Poke some holes in your Russet (or my favorite Sweet Potato) with a fork and then microwave for about 5 minutes. Turn it over and microwave in increments of 1 to 2 minutes until it is at your desired texture. Once done, fix it with your favorite toppings and enjoy.
- Disinfect & deodorize sponges – If you have a sponge that might have seen it’s last days, try to reinvigorate them. Soak them in water with some vinegar (or lemon juice) and zap them for 1 minute. Be careful, they’ll be hot, but they’ll also be disinfected to be used again and again.
- Store bread – Microwaves have a large cavity and are fairly air-tight which is perfect for storing your fresh bread products. It will help to keep them fresher, longer.
- Don’t boil water with your microwave – boiling water is still most efficient with an electric kettle or an induction stove top
Your stove/oven can burn your food and your wallet as they can use a lot of energy to work. If you’re looking at a new stove, you have plenty of options in terms of fuel-type and design. Some people prefer ranges that are fully natural gas while the majority of units in the market are electric based. The stove top in electric units can be either conventional coil-top (least expensive and least efficient), ceramic smooth top with a halogen or quartz element, or the more efficient electrical induction stove top. Induction will cost more and you will need induction cookware, but it can boil a pot of water in under a minute.
There are a few things you can do to to cut your energy use with your range oven:
- Always cook with the lid on your pans. Cooking without lids can take three times as much energy.
- If you have a convection oven, use the convection feature. Convection cooking can be 25-30% quicker than conventional ovens.
- If you have a gas range, make sure that the gas burns blue. If the flame is yellow, the fuel is burning inefficiently and the range should be serviced.
- Food cooks more efficiently in ovens where air can circulate freely. Don’t lay foil on the racks. If possible, stagger pans on upper and lower racks to improve air flow.
- Using glass or ceramic pans in ovens allows you to CUT cooking temperature by 25°F with no extra time required.
- Just before your food is cooked completely, turn off the oven or burner and allow the heat in the pot or pan to continue the cooking process for you.
- Try to cook more than one dish at a time – fill the oven to make the most of the energy you’re using.
- Use the window to peek at a meals progress. Opening the door releases a lot of energy and can slow your cooking time considerably.
- Use the stove-top element that is closest in size to the pot/pan that you are using. This will ensure that you are primarily heating your pot/pan, not empty space.
What you may not realize is that your dishwasher may actually be more efficient than hand washing your dishes. Energy Star® says that over 10 years, approved dishwashers can save you up to $431 in water and energy costs over hand washing. This doesn’t include the estimated 230 hours saved from having to hand wash.
- Only run your dishwasher with a full load. It will use the same amount of water for one plate as the amount for a full load.
- Don’t pre-rinse your dishes, but be sure to scrape food off your plate. Most newer dishwashers were designed so dishes don’t need pre-rinsing.
- If you have a no-heat drying feature, use it. Even better, after the final rinse, turn off the dishwasher and open the door to let the dishes air dry.
- Some plastic containers are not dishwasher friendly and can leach chemicals during washing. Only clean with dishwasher safe containers.
- If the initial water entering the dishwasher is not hot enough, it may activate an internal heater which uses a lot of energy. Run the hot water in a faucet connected to the same water line as the dishwasher for a few seconds. This ensures that the water entering the dishwasher first is hot.
- Don’t put non-stick coated pots and pans in your dishwasher. This can damage the coating. Also, think twice about dish washing good knives (can dull them), cast-iron skillets (rust) and anything made of wood (warping).
Well the most obvious options to efficient clothes washing is using cold water. This saves you on the fuel needed to heat the water and there are cold water specific detergents available. Like your dishwasher, try to only do your washes with a full-load. Many new machines will adjust the amount of water it uses based on how much you have in the machine.
Clothes dryers have normally been one the largest energy users in the home. Only in recent years has drying technology advanced to allow for a new Energy Star category. Use an appropriate amount of clothes in your dryer and avoid using it if you can altogether. If you have the space, try a clothes hanger.
Ok, let’s just pretend it’s an appliance as it doesn’t fit anywhere else at the moment. In many studies it was found that most pool pumps are over-sized and run longer than needed. New variable speed pumps have also been introduced to the market that can have dramatic effects on your energy usage. If you upgrade to a premium variable speed pool pump, the average savings estimated in the Toronto climate zone is approximately 2,650kWh per year. At 15 cents per kWh average (including all rates), that amounts to $397.50 in savings per year (as of Jan 1, 2017). The payback can be less than 3 years from energy savings.