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Energy Efficiency: Household Appliances

by Sarah

Most people would agree that a number of household appliances are necessary. But how can those appliances save energy? Saving energy in your home is not only cost-efficient for you, but it’s a great way to feel like you’re contributing to saving energy in the world. In the really cold months and the really hot months, we use much more energy than normal. It’s nearing our coldest point of the year, so it might be time to think critically about the energy you’re using at home.

In this article, keep reading to learn more about energy-saving kitchen tips, which appliances you might replace to save energy, and how to calculate how much energy your appliances are using.

Your kitchen contains a host of energy-using appliances and there are ways to reduce their energy use. First, buy the most efficient units possible. This includes refrigerators, dishwashers, and stoves. (There isn’t much difference in microwave oven efficiency.) Identifying the most efficient models is simple: just look for the EnergyStar label. This assures you that it’s among the top efficient models.

For refrigerators avoid the automatic ice maker and drink dispenser because they cause more breakdowns and leaks, in addition to increasing energy use. Can you consolidate one refrigerator for two that you already have? A second refrigerator freezer, especially an older one, greatly increases your energy costs.

Selecting the most efficient stove is also important. Induction stoves are now the most efficient and provide features not available with traditional electric or gas stoves. Induction stoves are still more expensive but the energy savings can repay the extra cost (especially if you cook at lot).

Energy-Saving Kitchen Tips

If you aren’t buying any new appliances, you can still practice energy-saving behaviors. Those can cut your energy use in half in some cases. Some of the most efficient conservation practices are

  • Covering cooking pans/pots
  • Using an electric kettle instead of running hot water
  • Loading the dishwasher fully before washing
  • Relatively small measures, such as reducing the number of times the refrigerator is opened
  • Removing extra refrigerators/freezers
  • Placing the faucet lever on the kitchen sink in the cold position when using small amounts of water; placing the lever in the hot position draws hot water even though it may never reach the faucet.
  • Looking for blue flames in natural gas appliances; yellow flames indicate the gas is burning inefficiently and an adjustment may be needed. If you see yellow flames, consult the manufacturer or your local utility.
  • Keeping range-top burners and reflectors clean; they will reflect the heat better, and you will save energy.
  • Using a covered kettle or pan or electric kettle to boil water; it’s faster and uses less energy.
  • Matching the size of the pan to the heating element when cooking.
  • Using the microwave oven when possible
  • Using small electric pans, toaster ovens, or convection ovens for small meals rather than your large stove or oven. A toaster or convection oven uses one-third to one-half as much energy as a full-sized oven.
  • Not setting your refrigerator or freezer too cold. Recommended temperatures are 35°-38°F for the fresh food compartment and 0° F for separate freezers for long-term storage.
  • Making sure your refrigerator door seals are airtight. Test them by closing the door over a piece of paper or a dollar bill so it is half in and half out of the refrigerator. If you can pull the paper or bill out easily, the latch may need adjustment, the seal may need replacing, or you may consider buying a new unit.
  • Regularly defrosting manual-defrost freezers and refrigerators; frost buildup decreases the energy efficiency of the unit. Don’t allow frost to build up more than one-quarter of an inch.

Replace Your Old Appliances

Here are a few appliances that you might need to replace anyway and that can save you energy:

  • Refrigerators: believe it or not, energy-efficient refrigerators are all the rage. Old fridges can waste energy because of inefficient cooling and lighting systems. Energy Star even estimates that refrigerators 10 years or older cost homeowners almost $5 billion in utility fees. Replacing your old fridge could save you hundreds in energy cost.
  • Dishwashers: some dishwashers might seem like they last a long time, but if you’re still relying on your dishwasher that’s over 20 years old, you’re wasting a lot of energy. New dishwashers can help you save every year on utility costs. Dishwashers made over 20 years ago waste 10 gallons of water during each cycle, on average. That’s a lot of gallons of wasted water over the years.
  • Washing machines: just like dishwashers, washing machines waste lots of energy and water if they’re older. If you have a washer that’s over 10 years old, you’re probably spending close to $200 a year on unnecessary water and energy.
  • Ceiling fans: living in the South, we know that ceiling fans can make us feel cooler and more comfortable during the summer months. By increasing air flow in whatever room they’re in, fans decrease your need for energy-intensive cooling. When you use a fan, typically you can lower your thermostat by around 4 degrees and feel the same.
  • Heat pumps: these are able to cool your home in the summer and heat it in the winter. They also remove extra humidity from the air, which means they can be more efficient than air conditioning units during the summer. Heat pumps may lower your electricity usage by about 50% compared to other standard heating systems.
  • Smart thermostats: these are crucial to help you program your HVAC system to heat or cool only when necessary. This can help you save up to 10% on your annual heating and cooling costs just by changing your thermostat by around 10 degrees for about 8 hours a day. This will save you both money and energy.
  • Dehumidifiers: we know humidity in the South! High humidity is more than just uncomfortable – it can also cause your HVAC system to waste energy. While heat pumps can handle extra moisture, whole-house dehumidifiers work with your HVAC system to pull extra humidity from the area while also helping the system work more efficiently.
  • Air purifiers: keeping indoor air clear isn’t an easy task, especially if you have pets. Consider installing a whole-home air purifier rather than relying on your energy-intensive air cleaner. Like a dehumidifier, a whole-home air purifier works alongside your HVAC system to remove pollutants that can cause you and your loved ones to get sick. Air purifiers can remove up to 95% of the pathogens in your home’s air supply, which will also help to keep your energy consumption low.

Estimating Your Household Appliance Energy Use

How much money do you spend on your household bills? How much electricity are your appliances using?

Determining how much electricity your appliances and home electronics use can help you understand how much money you are spending to use them. Use this information from to estimate how much electricity an appliance is using. Next, you can also figure how much the electricity costs so you can decide whether to invest in a more energy-efficient appliance.

There are several ways to estimate how much electricity your appliances and home electronics use:

  • First, reviewing the Energy Guide label. The label provides an estimate of the average energy consumption and cost to operate the specific model of the appliance you are using. Note that all not all appliances or home electronics are required to have an Energy Guide.
  • Next, using an electricity usage monitor to get readings of how much electricity an appliance is using.
  • Also, calculating annual energy consumption and costs using the formulas provided below
  • Finally, installing a whole house energy monitoring system.

Calculating Annual Electricity Consumption and Costs’s appliance and electronic energy use calculator allows you to estimate your annual energy use and cost to operate specific products. The wattage values provided are samples only; actual wattage of products varies depending on product age and features. Enter a wattage value for your own product for the most accurate estimate.

Follow these steps for finding the annual energy consumption of a product, as well as the cost to operate it.

At Bell’s Appliance Service, we offer many appliance installation and repair services that you can trust. With stores in Greenville and Jacksonville, North Carolina, we also service areas such as Kinston, New Bern, Swansboro, Atlantic Beach, Surf City, Topsail Beach, Tarboro, Pine Knoll Shores, Onslow County, and Pitt County in North Carolina. We offer excellent household appliance installation, so if you need your refrigerator repaired or a new oven installed, we’re here to help! We’re a locally owned, family-operated business, and we specialize in appliance repair, installation, and maintenance services.