Achieving an energy-efficient home or apartment may seem like an impossible task between replacing items, changing the way you use them. Many people see it as an overwhelming task, but that’s not true. Becoming more energy efficient is easier than you think, and doing so will not only help the environment around you but also help your wallet.
Because appliances tend to suck up the most electricity for homeowners and renters, we’ve got tips to optimize the way yours work, greatly reducing your carbon footprint and utility bills.
The refrigerator is one of the biggest appliances in the home; it is also one of the most important, keeping food and beverages safe for consumption. For it to do its job, you need to keep it in good shape.
One important thing you can do for your refrigerator is clean it. While this may seem like an obvious step to some, many don’t realize that cleaning your fridge can not only prevent bad odors from past date foods from occurring inside, but also improve its efficiency. Also, make sure the back side and the underside of the refrigerator are clean. This can keep your fridge from dust issues in the future.
Additionally, it is important to keep a moderate temperature in your fridge. If the inside compartments are too cold, it will suck up more electricity than it should. However, you don’t want to lower the temperature too drastically, as temperatures that are too low will spoil the food. A safe temperature is often around 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
In addition, try not to leave your fridge half empty. It takes a lot of electricity to run your refrigerator 24/7, and it all goes to waste if you are barely stocking it.
Probably the simplest, but the most overlooked, way to keep an energy efficient home is to come to your appliance prepared as often as possible. In other words, know what you are going to get before you open the fridge. Every time you open the fridge, you are expending more electricity to compensate for the room temperature being let in and the cold air being let out. So, it’s best not to open the door just for contemplation; instead, think about what you want before you reach in to get it.
A microwave is a fantastic invention for reheating food. Instead of waiting for your oven or stove to heat, you get nearly instant results. However, while you use your microwave to save time, you should also be sure to reduce wasted electricity while reheating.
The first step toward making sure it is in top working condition is making sure it is clean. When you have a lot of built-up, caked-on food residue in your microwave, you allow it to heat up every time you use the appliance, causing the old foods to release strong odors over time. Additionally, because the microwave sucks up moisture, the hardened foods can catch on fire. In terms of keeping an energy efficient home, letting your microwave stay filthy for a period of time will reduce its effectiveness, as much of the electricity used will go toward heating the buildup instead of the food you want heated.
Another life hack for a more energy efficient appliance is to open the microwave before it is finished. Not only is that timer ding annoying, it also uses a bit of energy in order to go off. Is it a lot of energy? No, not really. However, keeping an eye on your food and removing it just a few seconds before the timer goes off is a simple way to save a bit of electricity.
It is also recommended that you avoid using your microwave for defrosting as much as you can. While we can’t deny the usefulness of this function when you’re in a bind, it sucks up a lot of energy. The best thing you can do is leave your food out for a period of time to defrost before turning to your microwave, if you even need to use it at all. Fully defrosting without using the microwave is actually better for saving energy and saving cooking time
However, we would also like to point out that the microwave can also help you achieve a more energy efficient home if you have the choice between using the microwave or the oven. It uses less energy than an oven, so when cooking smaller meals or reheating leftovers, using the microwave is your most efficient option. Save the oven for larger meals.
Dishwashers are one of the greatest appliance inventions, but when trying to achieve a more energy efficient home, updating your dishwasher can seem a little daunting. Because dishwashers need to use a lot of water to get your dishes clean, they will always waste a lot of electricity and resources. However, there are ways to ensure they are making use of all the water and electricity used.
The most effective way to make the most of the resources used is to buy a new dishwasher. Many of the newer models have smart technology that can detect exactly how much water to use for reducing waste.
If you have a fairly dishwasher or don’t want to spend the extra money on a whole new energy efficient appliance model, there are little tricks that you can do to optimize your current model’s performance. Making sure that you have a full load is one way to keep your dishwasher functioning optimally. The dishwasher will expend a certain amount of energy per wash, whether you’ve loaded five spoons or filled the rack to capacity, so try not to run your dishwasher unless you’ve got a full load. Note: Overstuffing the racks is a problem too because the energy expended won’t be enough to scrub the extra items, meaning you’ll have to rewash dishes and waste more water and electricity.
Another tip to keep in mind may go against what you’ve always been told, but avoid sink washing before using your dishwasher. Most modern dishwashers don’t need the extra help, so sink rinsing ends up wasting water unnecessarily. Unless you’ve got dry, crusted-on foods, the dishwasher should do the trick on its own.
Also, unless you really need it, try to avoid putting your dishwasher’s water on scalding heat levels. Your home wastes a lot of electricity heating up water in addition to the amount it takes to run the wash.
4. Washing Machine
Curtailing the energy needed to run the washing machine is difficult. However, there are a couple of tips that help achieve a more energy efficient home will still keeping your clothes looking great and smelling fresh.
A good step is to use less water and lower temperatures for your loads. This can help minimize wasted water and wasted electricity. Hot or warm water in your appliance should only be used for deep, dark stains or man-made cloths like jeans and knits. Plus, hot water often shrinks those clothes made of natural materials, so only use warmer temperatures when you really need to.
Also, if you are doing laundry daily, try to use the shortest cycle, especially on clothes that have a quick turnaround. An added bonus: running frequently worn items on a lower setting will allow them to last longer.
You can also rinse your heavily soiled clothes before washing them to make them easier to clean, so it won’t matter that you’ve chosen a shorter cycle.
Dryers waste a lot of electricity, so cutting down your dry-time is always a good idea for a more energy efficient home.
The number one thing you can do to minimize wasted electricity is to use of alternative drying options before turning to your appliance. Larger, heavier linens, such as bedding, towels, and tablecloths, can take a long time to dry in the machine. Take advantage of line drying for these bulky items; then just give them a light, 20-minute run in the dryer to get rid of the stiffness that comes with line drying. You’ll get the benefits of dryer fluffing without running the appliance for an hour or more.
Another important step for optimal function is to keep your dryer clean. Having too much lint or disintegrated debris in your laundry will slow your dryer to a crawl. The slower the dryer is, the harder it will be for it to actually dry clothes, meaning you’ll have to put your clothes through a second cycle just to get the job done.
Always wait until your washing machine cycle is complete before moving clothes into the dryer. You may think you’re saving electricity by cutting the cycle short, but you’re actually just forcing the dryer to work overtime to compensate. Clothes that are damp will dry much faster than clothes that are sopping wet.