Examine electronic and appliance use for opportunities to save energy and money.

Use power strips

Electronic devices like DVRs, gaming systems and battery chargers drain power when plugged in, even when they aren’t being used. For home office equipment, this stand-by or “phantom” power load can range from a few watts to as much as 20 or even 40 watts for each piece of equipment. And you’re paying for that power.

Plug items into a power strip and turn it OFF when you are done using equipment. This allows you to completely disconnect the electronics from their power source, and you won’t pay for what you don’t use.

Monitor power use

Inexpensive kilowatt meters are available that can accurately gauge power consumption, even at very low levels. These devices can help you find out which of your electronics are using the most energy and identify opportunities for savings.

Shop televisions

When purchasing a new TV, look for the ENERGY STAR label that displays annual estimated energy use and operating cost compared to other models of similar size.

Program set-top boxes and peripherals

Some of the biggest electronic users of energy in your home include cable and satellite boxes, especially those that incorporate digital video recorders (DVRs). Save energy by enabling the “sleep modes” on your devices or plug them into a power strip that you can turn off when devices aren’t in use.

A typical household spends more on electricity for their home entertainment system than on the power used for a new refrigerator! In some homes, consumer electronics account for up to 15% of household energy use.
Before you start

Defrost frozen foods in the refrigerator before cooking so your oven or stovetop isn’t using energy to bring food to room temperature.

While you cook

Food cooks more quickly and efficiently in ovens where air circulates freely. Don’t lay foil on the racks. If baking more than one pan at a time, stagger pans on upper and lower racks to improve airflow. More ways to save energy:

  • Avoid opening the oven door and letting heat and energy escape as you cook. Instead, use your oven light and oven window to inspect food.
  • Turn off the electric burner just before cooking is finished. The burner will continue to radiate heat, which can save energy and prevent overcooking. Use thermometers to prevent overcooking, especially when cooking meat in the oven.
Reheating food

It takes less energy to reheat food than to cook it. Cook double portions when using your oven, and refrigerate or freeze half for another meal. This saves preparation time, too!

Time to clean

Scrape, don’t rinse

Modern dishwashers do a superb job of cleaning even heavily soiled dishes. Don’t be tempted to pre-rinse dishes before loading. Simply scrape off any food, empty liquids and let the dishwasher do the rest.

When filling the dishwasher

Completely fill the racks to optimize water and energy use, but allow proper water circulation for adequate cleaning.

Wash only full loads

The dishwasher uses the same amount of water, whether it’s half-full or completely full. Consider loading the dishwasher throughout the day and running it once in the evening.

Use energy-saving options

Select the cycle on your dishwasher that requires the least amount of energy for the job. Many models now include “eco” cycles designed to minimize energy and water consumption.

Use the no-heat air-dry feature on your dishwasher

Use the no-heat dry feature, if your dishwasher has one, or open the dishwasher to air-dry dishes. This may increase the drying time but will save energy.

Turn down the water heater temperature

Most dishwashers in the U.S. have built-in heaters that boost water temperature to what’s recommended for optimum dishwashing performance. So, go ahead and lower your water heater temperature to 120°F. This provides adequate hot water for your household needs, reduces the risk of scalding and saves money on water heating costs.

Cleaning your oven

If you have a self-cleaning oven, save energy by using this feature just after you’ve cooked a meal, when the oven is still hot and the cleaning feature requires less energy. Try not to use the self-cleaning feature too often and operate the ventilation fan when in use.

Optimize load size

It’s important not to underload or overload your washer and dryer. Load your washer to its full capacity whenever possible without overloading. And do the same with your dryer. Small loads waste energy, while overloading your machines is tougher on your clothes and the washer/dryer.

Use Lower Temperature Settings

Use cold water for the wash cycle instead of warm or hot (except for greasy stains). Presoak heavily soiled clothes — this allows you to use a cooler wash temperature. Always set the washer on cold water to rinse. When drying:

  • Clean the dryer filter after each use. A clogged filter restricts airflow and reduces dryer performance.
  • Check the outside dryer exhaust vent. If you have a conventional exhaust vent, make sure it’s clean and that the flapper on the outside hood opens and closes freely. If the flapper stays open, replace the outside dryer vent hood with one that seals tightly. This prevents cold air from blowing into your house through the dryer and increasing your heating costs.
  • New dryers use significantly less energy to dry typical loads on low heat than on high heat. If you aren’t in a rush, let the clothes run longer on low heat. This saves energy and is gentler on clothes.

As computer use in the home increases, so does energy use. When purchasing new computer equipment, look for the ENERGY STAR label that identifies energy-efficient PCs, monitors, printers, faxes, and copiers.

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