42 Energy saving tips
- Cook with small appliances. Cook with your toaster oven, electric skillet and slow cooker for specialized jobs, rather than the range. Small appliances use less energy.
- Use the microwave. Microwave ovens shorten cooking times, which saves energy.
- Clean or replace air filters. Replace filters on exhaust hoods, humidifiers, vacuums, etc. Clogged filters impair performance and cause the units to run longer.
- Run cold water for disposal. Hot water requires energy to warm the water. Cold water saves energy and solidifies grease, moving it more easily through the garbage disposal and pipes.
Refrigerators and freezers
- Purchase an ENERGY STAR model. When buying a new refrigerator or freezer, look for the ENERGY STAR label. ENERGY STAR refrigerators and freezers can save you hundreds of dollars on your electric bill over the life of the appliance. Remember, older refrigerators and freezers use two to three times more electricity than ones that are 10 years old or less.
- Select the right size. Determine your household’s needs before purchasing a refrigerator or freezer. One that is too large wastes energy.
- Only use one refrigerator or freezer. You can spend up to $120 in electricity per year using a second refrigerator or freezer. If you want to use a second refrigerator or freezer during holidays or for special occasions, turn it on one to two days before you need it.
- Don’t set the temperature colder than necessary. Set the refrigerator temperature between 36° F and 42° F. Set the freezer control so the temperature is between -5° F and +6° F. A small thermometer placed in the refrigerator or freezer will help you set it correctly.
- Clean the unit. Clean dust off the condenser coils, fins, evaporator pan and motor once or twice a year. A clean unit runs more efficiently. Unplug the unit and clean with a vacuum cleaner or long-handled brush.
- Defrost a manual-defrost unit regularly. Frost makes your unit work harder and wastes energy. Don’t allow more than one-quarter inch of frost to build up.
- Stay away from direct heat. Place the refrigerator or freezer away from direct sunlight and other heat sources such as ovens or ranges. Heat will cause the unit to use more energy to stay cold.
- Do not place the unit in unheated space. Don’t place your refrigerator or automatic defrost freezer in a garage, porch or other unheated space. If the temperature drops below 60° F, the unit will be less efficient and cost more money to operate. Or, the compressor may stop running, causing the temperature inside the freezer compartment to rise. Stored food could spoil.
- Check the seals. Refrigerator and freezer doors should seal tightly. Loose seals cause your unit to work harder and use more energy. If you can move a dollar bill through the closed door, the seal is not tight enough. Get the seals replaced or replace the unit if it is an older model.
- Run full loads. Always wait until you have a full load before running your dishwasher. Full loads use the same amount of hot water and energy as smaller loads. You run fewer loads and save energy.
- Use short cycles. Select the shortest cycle that properly cleans your dishes. Shorter cycles use less hot water and less energy.
- Skip rinsing the dishes. Rinsing dishes before loading them into the dishwasher wastes energy. If you do rinse, use cold water.
- Clean the filter. If your dishwasher has a filter screen, clean it regularly. A clean appliance runs more efficiently.
Ranges & oven
- Reduce the heat. Begin cooking on a higher heat setting until liquid begins to boil. Then, lower the temperature and simmer the food until fully cooked. A fast boil doesn’t cook faster than a slow boil, but it does use more energy.
- Don’t peek in the oven. Resist the urge to open the oven door while baking. Every time you peek, the temperature drops 25° F and requires additional energy to bring the temperature back up.
- Use retained heat. Turn off cook tops or ovens a few minutes before food has completed cooking. Retained heat finishes the job using less energy.
- Consider a natural gas range or oven. Natural gas appliances cost less to operate than electric appliances and offer better temperature control.
- Put a lid on it. Cook food and boil water in a covered container whenever possible. This traps the heat inside and requires less energy.
- Make sure the oven seals tightly. Make sure the seal on the oven door is tight. Even a small gap allows heat to escape and wastes energy. If you can move a dollar bill through the closed door, the seal is not tight enough and should be replaced.
- Check the oven temperature. Test the oven temperature to be sure that the setting matches the actual temperature. If the actual temperature is too high, you will use more energy than needed. Also, your food may not turn out how you anticipate.
Washers & dryers
- Adjust the water level. If you have a washer that allows you to control the load’s water level, adjust the level according to laundry load size. You can save energy by using less hot water for small loads.
- Run full loads. Always run a full load in your washer or dryer. Running a partial load uses the same amount of energy as a full load – but you get less done. Running full loads allows you to run your washer or dryer less often.
- Wash laundry in warm or cold water. Washing laundry with warm or cold water works your water heater less. Use hot water only when the greatest cleaning is needed.
- Rinse in cold water. Rinse water temperature has no effect on cleaning. Rinsing with cold water saves money by heating less water.
- Place the washer close to the water heater. Water loses heat as it flows through pipes. When the washer is located near the water heater, hot water doesn’t have to travel as far to reach the washer, and less heat is lost. Insulating the pipes between the water heater and washer helps retain heat, too.
- Don’t dry clothes excessively. Drying laundry excessively uses more energy than is needed, and is hard on fabrics. If you purchase a dryer, get one with an electronic sensor that shuts off the dryer when clothes are dry.
- Clean the lint filter. After each load, clean the filter to keep the dryer running efficiently. Also, periodically check the air vent and hose for clogging. Keeping the air vent and hose free of lint prevents a fire hazard.
Water heaters and water usage
- Purchase an energy-efficient model. The initial cost may be more but operating costs are less in the long run. Consider a tankless or instantaneous water heater, which uses energy only when hot water is needed, rather than maintaining 40 gallons or more of hot water all the time.
- Purchase the correct size. Consider your family’s hot water needs. If your water heater is too large, it uses more energy than needed. If it is too small, you may run out of hot water.
- Purchase a natural gas water heater. If you currently have an electric water heater, consider replacing it with a natural gas water heater. When it comes to heating water, natural gas is less expensive than electricity, and it heats more water faster during heavy use. Consider a sealed combustion or an on-demand water heater. Both types use less energy.
- Install your water heater near the kitchen. The kitchen is where you use the hottest water. When the water heater is located near the kitchen, hot water doesn’t have to travel as far and less heat is lost.
- Insulate water pipes. Use half-inch foam or pipe tape for insulation wherever pipes are exposed. On cold water pipes, insulate four to five feet nearest to the water heater. Pipe insulation can save you up to $25 annually.
- Set the water temperature to 120° F. It takes less energy to heat water to a lower temperature. If you have an electric water heater, you’ll have to remove the cover plate of the thermostat to adjust the temperature. For safety reasons, remember to turn off the water heater at the circuit breaker/fuse before changing the temperature.
- Repair dripping faucets promptly. If the faucet leaks hot water, the energy used to heat it is costing you money. (One drop a second can waste up to 48 gallons a week!)
- Install a heat loop or in-line trap. If you add a new water heater to your home, consider having a heat loop or in-line trap installed. These mechanisms can be inexpensive to install and keep hot water from moving into the piping system when you are not using hot water. Ask your plumbing contractor for details.
- Reduce deposits and build-ups. Drain a bucket of water from the bottom of the water heater once or twice a year to reduce mineral deposits and sediment build-up. This increases water heater efficiency. Don’t drain the water heater, though, if you’ve used it for a year or more and have never drained it. The faucet may have corroded shut and could break if you force it open. Before draining the water from an electric water heater, turn off the water heater at the circuit breaker/fuse.
- Install water saving devices. Use low-flow showerheads on all showers and faucet aerators on all faucets to reduce your hot water use.
- Install a water softener. If you have hard water, install a water softener to prevent mineral deposits from coating the elements. This helps prolong water heater life and saves energy and money.