Kitchen Energy Savers

Your kitchen contains the biggest energy and water hogs in your home. By changing a few cooking habits and using your appliances more efficiently, you can reduce your kitchen energy usage and save some cash.

 

 

Oven Stove Kitchen Energy Savers

Oven/Stove

 

When using the oven, preheat for 5-8 minutes only, and cut cooking time up to 20% by moving the rack closer to the heating unit. Every time you open the oven door, you lose 25-30 degrees, so check food with the oven light instead. Save energy and time by using the self-cleaning feature right after cooking to take advantage of residual heat.

 

For smaller meals, cut usage in half with an electric pan or toaster oven. Slow cookers are a great alternative and average a dime’s worth of electricity per meal. Cut out electricity altogether by grilling out, and you’ll avoid forcing the refrigerator to work harder in a hot kitchen.

 

If you have a gas range, confirm you are getting a blue flame. A yellow flame means the fuel is burning inefficiently, and your gas line should be checked by your gas company. When buying new, look for an oven with an automatic electric ignition system instead of having a continuously burning pilot light.

 

On top, purchase reflective (instead of dull) burner pans to direct more heat to cookware and save one-third of the energy usage. Blackened, dirty burner pans absorb heat and reduce efficiency, so clean them regularly. Reduce heat loss by using pots and pans with flat bottoms and matching them to the correct burner size.

 

 

Refrigerator Freezer Kitchen Energy Savers

Refrigerator/Freezer

 

Save energy by not setting your refrigerator and freezer colder than necessary. The Department of Energy recommends setting refrigerators between 36-38°F and freezers between 0-5°F.

 

You can do simple things to prevent your refrigerator from working overtime. Maintain circulation by not overcrowding the shelves. Make the condenser work more efficiently by waiting for food to cool before storing and covering containers to prevent moisture. Every three months, vacuum the condenser coils underneath and behind the unit. Test for air leakage by closing the door over a piece of paper. If it pulls out easily, look into getting a new latch or seal.

 

 

Dishwasher Sink Kitchen Energy Savers

Sink/Dishwasher

 

Conventional faucets flow up to five gallons per minute, but you can reduce this to 1.5 gallons simply by installing a low-flow faucet. Remember to choose cold water for rinsing, filling pots or running the garbage disposal. In fact, skip the garbage disposal and create a compost heap instead.

 

Dishwashers save time, but they raise utility bills, too. Wait until you have a full load and let dishes air dry after cleaning. The “rinse hold” setting uses 3-7 gallons of hot water per use, so ignore this setting when you have few soiled dishes. When purchasing a dishwasher, look for ones with internal booster heaters, so that you can set your water heater thermostat at 120°F (rather than 140°F for dishwashing purposes).

 

Without making major changes, you can make your kitchen more energy efficient and save considerably on your monthly costs.

   

Energy Saving Myths and Their Alternatives

We are all trying to find new and innovative ways to save energy in our homes, which could ultimately save us some money. But sometimes those “innovative” practices we find on the internet or hear from our friends aren’t exactly putting extra change in our wallets or cutting down the energy usage in our homes. So which methods work and which don’t? Let’s bust some myths and figure out some ways to actually save energy and money!

 

 

Myth #1: Replacing Windows is a Good Investment for Energy Savings

 

Myth 1- Replacing Windows is a Good Investment for Energy SavingsThis is not necessarily true. While, yes, replacing windows with glass that is thick and tinted could eventually save energy and cut down bills, the amount you’d be spending on those windows definitely will not out weigh the benefits.

 

Instead: Rather than spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars on window glass replacements, try having window film installed instead! Window film and its installation costs significantly less and can do a lot for energy savings and heat prevention in your home.

 

 

Myth #2: Electric Space Heaters Use Less Energy

 

Myth 2- Electric Space Heaters Use Less EnergyActually, using a space heater or two will use even more energy than heating your home through your central air system. They use a lot of electricity which can really amp up your bills if you’re using them constantly throughout the colder seasons.

 

Instead: If your home is cold, it will be better on your wallet and your air system to simply let your home heat up slowly. While you may have to opt for some blankets and sweaters for an hour or two, it’ll be much more cost effective to allow your home to heat up by slowly increasing the temperature on your thermostat.

 

 

Myth #3: Keeping the Ceiling Fan Running Will Cool a Room More Quickly

 

Myth 3- Keeping the Ceiling Fan Running Will Cool a Room More QuicklyContrary to popular belief, a ceiling fan doesn’t help your air conditioning unit to cool a room more quickly, or allow it to work less. A fan makes us THINK we are cooler because the air circulating touches our skin and makes us believe the room is cool. However, keeping a fan running doesn’t actually cool a room, just the area around it. In fact, keeping it running will cost more than allowing your air conditioning to slowly cool a room on its own.

 

 

Instead: Only use a fan while you are in a room. It’s more for your comfort rather than energy efficiency. Just like slowly heating an area, slowly cool an area with your air conditioner. Bring down the temperature by a degree or two every hour. Once the room is cool, turn off your fan.

 

Myth #4: Washing Dishes by Hand Uses Less (Heated) Water Than a Dishwasher

 

 

Myth 4- Washing Dishes by Hand Uses Less (Heated) Water Than a DishwasherWell, not exactly. Actually, allowing the hot water to run as you clean the dishes uses more water and forces your water heater to work more quickly than running the dishwasher.

 

Instead: Most modern dishwashers are very water and energy efficient. Letting the dishwasher work on its own will use less energy than handwashing your dishes and allowing hot water to continuously run. Take advantage of your appliances in your home, especially your dishwasher.

   

5 Energy Savings Myths Busted

So you’ve started implementing a few energy savings tips to cut down on home utility bills. Good job! But some tips are not as effective as you think. In fact, your efforts might be costing you money. Let’s bust some myths.

 

 

Close vents and registersMyth 1: Close vents and registers in unused rooms to save energy.

 

In reality, energy is consumed through the heating and cooling unit itself, especially if you have a central HVAC system. When you restrict air at the vent, it simply redirects the flow to other areas of the home or through leaks in your duct system. This puts increased pressure back on the system’s fan that pushes out the air. All that you are doing is forcing your system to work harder and use more energy.

 

 

Crank the thermostat higherMyth 2: Crank the thermostat higher to heat or cool a home faster.

 

When your HVAC system kicks on, it is already producing hot or cold air at its maximum potential. The home will not come to your comfort level any faster than if you adjust the thermostat to a standard setting. What a drastic setting will do is lengthen the run-time of the system, which bumps up your energy usage and heads into an uncomfortable temperature.

 

 

Turning on and off a lightMyth 3: Turning on and off a light generates more energy than leaving it on.

 

Somehow, the theory that turning on a light bulb creates a power surge has survived being debunked. In truth, there is no significant power draw when a light is switched on. Simply put, leaving a light on draws energy. Even if you are leaving a room for only a few minutes, flip the switch to off or invest in auto-sensors that will shut off lights for you.

 

 

Your computers screen saverMyth 4: Your computer’s screen saver is also an energy saver.

 

When the screen saver application is running, your computer comes back to life immediately with a finger click. Your computer has been running at capacity all along with additional energy used to run the screen saver! Today, most computers and monitors have power management settings, which allow you to save energy by putting them to sleep or shutting them off after a preset period of time. However, even power management mode uses energy. When you will be gone for longer periods, especially at night and on weekends, power down your equipment completely.

 

 

Keep your thermostat at one constant temperatureMyth 5: Keep your thermostat at one constant temperature.

 

You’ve likely heard conflicting information on where to set your thermostat when not at home. Here’s the deal. Keeping your home at the same temperature uses more energy than bringing the house up to temperature. You will use less energy to warm up a cold room in the morning or cool off a warm house when you get home from work. The better energy saving option is to set the temperature just a few degrees off your standard and toss on a throw or close curtains to block sunlight.

 

With these long-standing energy savings tips debunked, you’ve got the know-how to become more efficient at cutting down energy usage in your home.

   

3 Energy Saving Items to Buy at Your Hardware Store

Whether you head to big-box stores for your hardware needs or shop locally around the block, you can get sidetracked looking at all the handy products that can make your home projects simpler. Next time you’re wandering the aisles, ask a clerk to point you to these cool, inexpensive energy saving items that are made specifically to cut down air leaks in your home.

 

 

Thermal Leak Detector

Cost: $20-$100

Thermal Leak Detecter In TextIf a certain room in your home feels hotter or colder than other areas, you may have hidden air leaks. Find them with a thermal leak detector, which is a device that uses an infrared laser to measure surfaces for dips and peaks from a reference temperature. To locate where you are losing energy specifically, shine the device around doors, windows, and footings. Most devices alert you to differences in temperature by changing from neutral green to red (hot) or blue (cold) so that you can pinpoint outside air drafts, and determine where you need to seal air leaks.

 

 

Outlet Gaskets

Cost: $1-$5

Outlet GasketElectrical outlets and wall switches located on exterior walls can be responsible for up to 5% of energy loss in your home. Installing foam outlet gaskets are an easy and inexpensive way to reduce incoming drafts and outgoing temperature-controlled air. Your local hardware store will offer plates and switch covers with the foam attached or you can grab a box of gaskets and install them behind your current covers. Some plates are even spring-loaded to cover plug holes when not in use, which blocks even more air loss, and provides added protection for children.

 

 

Window A/C Covers

Cost: $15-$50

Window AC Cover In TextIf your air conditioner is mounted permanently in a window or built into the wall, then winter winds can sift through your unit into the home and cause drafts, heat loss, and a higher electric bill. A quilted or insulated air conditioner cover will shield your unit from taking in cold air and can protect it from leaves, dust, and snow, which helps it function better when it’s time to use it in summer. You can choose a cover to place over your conditioner from the inside or the outside. You’ll find cover options in different sizes and materials (indoor ones are typically machine-washable). Some covers attach with Velcro, while others use elastic to wrap the unit like a fitted sheet. Besides a cover, add some weatherstripping to seal between the unit and window frame, and you’ve taken a big step in keeping yourself warmer in winter.

 

On your next trip to the hardware store, take an extra moment to look around for these energy saving items that can help you save energy without breaking the bank.

   

Top Apps to Use in an Energy Emergency

Winter storms can leave you stranded far from home or stuck inside without power. This type of energy emergency may require you to seek help immediately. That’s when you turn to your trusty smartphone. Having one (or more) of these disaster relief mobile apps at the ready means you have the power in your hand – just a few clicks away.

 

FEMA Mobile App

FEMA Mobile AppThe Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has developed an impressive mobile app experience, which provides emergency preparedness tips for nearly any situation – from home fires to tsunamis. It also features a map of local disaster recovery shelters and a Disaster Reporter map. The Disaster Reporter map functions much the same as Lantern Live, where it relies on crowdsourcing to supply and share photos that illustrate critical information for first-responders and fellow citizens. You can download the free FEMA app for your Android or iPhone.

 

Lantern Live

Lantern LiveThe Lantern Live app allows you to look up the nearest operational gas station, find fuel, and view power outage maps. Using the clout of crowdsourcing and open data, Lantern Live calls on the people of a disaster-stricken community to provide updates and pertinent details. You’ll find real-time pictures and comments depicting the severity of a flooded road, while also being able to view local power outages and read useful tips on how to safely handle an emergency. Lantern Live is free but currently available only for Android users.

 

Red Cross Everyday Apps

First Aid, Blood, Flood, Tornado, Earthquake, Wildfire, Hurricane, Shelter Finder and Pet First Aid

Red Cross Everyday AppsThe Red Cross has a family of mobile apps, each focused on a different type of emergency situation. The Tornado App, for instance, provides step-by-step instructions of what to do even if the power is out and cell towers are down. You can also opt into push notifications to alert you when tornado warnings have expired, which is especially helpful when you have no power to watch local news. You can learn more and download any of the free Red Cross apps here.

 

Winter Survival Kit

Winter Survival KitMany people living in colder climates already have a survival kit packed in their car. If you don’t, this app provides a list of everything you need on hand in case of an emergency. On top of that, Winter Survival Kit will track your location should you get stranded in the middle of nowhere and need help contacting emergency services. The app’s Gas Calculator comes in handy by estimating how long you can run your engine with the fuel you have left in the tank. To help protect you from carbon monoxide poisoning, you’ll get an alert every 30 minutes to turn off your car and check the exhaust pipe for snow buildup. Get it free on  iTunes.

 

Power Outage Alarm Pro

Power Outage Alarm ProFor those with second homes or week-long travel plans, Power Outage Alarm Pro is extremely useful. It notifies you via text message or audible alert if any electrical equipment suffers a power cut while you’re away from home. The most popular uses include monitoring a fridge/freezer, fish tank, sump pump and heating system. Power Outage offers simple peace of mind when you download it on your Android device for $3.99.

 

You can also check apps from local power companies, such as Ready Virginia and OCFL Alert. These serve very specific markets, but their growing popularity could bring more targeted assistance to an area near you.

 

See Also: Fall and Winter Energy Saving Tips

   

Home Office Energy Saving Tips

According to the Global Workplace Analytics latest telecommuting statistics, an estimated 3.3 million Americans work from home. Working remotely may save you gas for your car, but what about its impact on your energy bills? The home office is a big contributor to total home energy usage, but by employing a few energy saving tips, you can also save money without sacrificing office performance.

 

 

Equipment

 

Laptop In TextDepending on your usage, ENERGY STAR labeled office equipment such as cordless phones and computers will use 30-60% less electricity than standard equipment. You’ll save more energy by using all-in-one devices that combine multiple functions (print, copy, scan). An ENERGY STAR labeled flat-panel LCD monitor uses one-half to two-thirds less power than an equally sized CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) screen, and it can save you $10 to $30 per year in electricity costs. Instead of a desktop computer that uses nearly 130 watts of electricity, buy a laptop that consumes 15 watts only, and you’ll save one-third the power.

 

Most devices consume electricity even when switched off. The AC adaptor for printers, scanners and laptops draws power continuously, so turn them off when they are not in use. Make it simple to power down all devices at once by grouping your plugs into one power strip. Even better, find a power strip that senses when devices aren’t in use, and it shuts them off for you. Don’t forget to turn off monitors and unplug battery chargers as well.

 

 

Power Management

 

Sleep Mode In TextSave energy by putting your computer in low-power sleep mode, and you’ll get the added benefits of keeping the machine cooler and retaining longer battery life. The energystar.gov website provides a list of operating systems with easy instructions on how to enable your power management settings. Additionally, you can adjust the settings for when you stop using the computer for a period of time, such as a lunch break or phone calls. Turn it off completely if you’ll be away for more than two hours.

 

 

Lighting

 

Lighting In TextSetting up energy efficient lighting is one of the simplest ways to save money. Arrange your desk to make the most of natural light on sunny days. Switch to halogen incandescent bulbs, LED, or compact fluorescent light bulbs, which last longer and use one-quarter to one-third of the power of conventional bulbs. Instead of relying entirely on overhead lights, conserve bulb usage by setting up task lighting. Place a floor lamp in a corner, and it will magnify light throughout the room.

 

 

Heating/Cooling

 

Desk Fan In TextWhen home alone during the day, avoid running heat or air conditioning at capacity for the entire house. Lower the thermostat a bit and supplement your office with a space heater in the winter or with fans in the summer. Just don’t forget to unplug them when they’re not in use.

Your office is one of the easiest rooms to tackle when making your home more energy efficient. Performing just a few mindful changes will save you energy and save you money.

   

Save Energy No Matter Where You Live

You can employ a number of tools to make your home more efficient. But, when you’re on a fixed budget or only have time for one or two improvements, it’s important to choose the most effective option to save energy. Where you live in the U.S. will help determine your energy-saving priorities.

Save Energy No Matter Where You Live - Infographic thumb

   

Power Down Your Home on Summer Vacation

Summer vacations are a time to relax and unwind from the daily hustle and bustle. Unfortunately, while you’re vacationing away from your home, your energy bill is still higher than expected. No one is home and the appliances are off, so why is your energy bill the same amount as the previous month? Although you’ve stopped working, your home’s utilities and electronics have not. So before you start your summer vacation, make sure your home is on vacation mode, too.

 

 

Avoid Vampire Power

 

Avoid Vampire PowerBefore leaving your home, set aside some time to walk through your home and make sure all unnecessary electronics and appliances are unplugged. Although you may not be using them while you’re on your vacation, vampire power will still run up your electric bill. Any unnecessary electronic devices including lamps, floor fans, game consoles, TVs, and computers, should be unplugged while your house is vacant. These devices can also be plugged into a power strip that is then switched off. Whichever method you choose, the risk of vampire power is avoided.

 

 

Controlled Cooling

 

Controlled CoolingUnless there are pets in the house while you’re away on your summer vacation, you can really take advantage of increasing your thermostat to cut energy consumption. Setting your thermostat between 85 to 87 degrees will show a drop in your next energy bill. Programmable thermostats can also help with maintaining energy use while you’re gone. If you choose to turn off your thermostat while you’re away, you can program your thermostat to turn on the day of or the day before your return so that your home is comfortable to come back to.

 

 

Maintain Major Appliances

 

Maintain Major AppliancesOn longer summer trips, it is a good idea to clean out your refrigerator and turn it off. Refrigerators are a major culprit of using large amounts of energy; they are the Hummers of automobiles. If the trip is shorter, you can raise the refrigerator and freezer temperature to the highest temperature it can go without spoiling the food inside. You can also power down your water heater if your summer vacation is longer than just a weekend getaway. Before shutting down or adjusting the settings on any major appliance, be sure to read the product manual to avoid issues.

 

 

Close Your Blinds

 

Close Your BlindsThere are many things you can do to save energy in your vacant home during your summer vacation. Besides unplugging and turning off different appliances, you can also do simple, yet effective tasks, like closing your blinds and curtains. This helps maintain your home’s temperature by blocking the heat so that your AC doesn’t run more frequently than necessary. If you have window film on your home’s windows, that will provide an additional layer of protection from the sun’s rays and also help prevent fading of your window coverings. Your home’s windows provide the easiest access for cool air to escape and warm air to enter. Covering your windows also provides a level of privacy while you are away. So on your next summer vacation, be sure to follow some of these energy saving tips so you can worry less about your bills and more about relaxation.

   

5 Energy Tips for Your Restaurant

Like any great restaurant owner, you have a lot of plates in the air. Between establishing and maintaining a cool ambiance, serving quality food and recruiting experienced staff, you may feel as if you’re burning through money. Trying to become more energy efficient would just be another weight on your shoulders. But, running an energy-smart eatery doesn’t have to be stressful. In fact, with these baseline tips, you’ll start seeing some dough roll back in.

 

You can cut utility costs by 10 to 30% if you strategically invest in energy efficiency, according to energystar.gov. By implementing Energy Star’s recommended tips, including the ones below, you can reduce energy costs by up to 20%. That kind of savings can lead to as much as a 30% increase in profits.

 

 

Serve Something Light1. Serve Something Light: It’s almost too easy, but replacing incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) can save energy with little effort. CFLs use nearly 80% less energy, which can save you up to $75 for every five bulbs swapped out. Plus, they last at least three times longer than incandescent alternatives. Your EXIT signs could even use a change. For these brighter luminaries, use light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs.

 

Set the Timer2. Set the Timer: Instead of manually adjusting your heating and cooling system each day, use a programmable thermostat that you can set and forget. A smart thermostat can automatically adjust the temperature based on your restaurant’s operating hours. With heating and cooling accounting for the majority of your utility bill, there’s a lot of savings to be had from efficiently controlling your restaurant’s climate.

 

Place an Order for Shade3. Place an Order for Shade: Speaking of climate control, what are you doing about that midday glare? Professionally-installed window film can block up to 99% of the sun’s rays, naturally keeping your restaurant cooler and customers more comfortable without turning up the A/C. And no matter what time of day, customers won’t need to squint, making it easier for them to enjoy their dining experience.

 

Cut the Power4. Cut the Power: Chances are you leave appliances on even when they aren’t being used. Power down ovens, toasters, and even cash registers when you don’t need them. If you have refrigerators or freezers that consistently remain half-full, condense all the food into fewer units and shut off these under-utilized energy-eaters.

 

Take Out the Trash5. Take Out the Trash: Whether it’s an extra refrigerator you’ve been holding on to, a mediocre exhaust hood or a 10-year-old dishwasher, you likely have at least one large, energy-draining item that needs to be thrown out. If it’s a necessary appliance or ventilation system, be sure to replace the old unit with an ENERGY STAR certified version. A good example would be replacing an outdated dishwasher with an insulated or infrared gas model for optimum energy savings.

 

Some energy efficient enhancements will come with a greater financial investment initially. However, with the possibility of a cleaner, more comfortable dining experience and happier, more productive employees, you can’t afford not to invest in some of these simple energy-saving tactics.

   

Energy Efficiency Tips for the Garage

When we get on a mission to start saving energy, the obvious focus is on the inside of our homes. But the next time you step into your garage, take a look around. This area provides you with even more energy efficiency options than you realize, and offers real potential to cut your energy costs.

 

 

Air Leaks Waste Energy

 

Air Leaks Waste EnergyIf your garage is connected to the home, you may be letting in air that affects the temperature of inside rooms adjacent to it. Insulate the walls shared with your home, and add a storm door to the entrance from garage to interior room. Inspect the door frame as well as any garage windows for cracks or gaps and use weatherstripping and caulk to seal air leaks.

 

What about the biggest door of your home? Your garage door is likely the least insulated of all your house entries. Install weatherstripping around the door and look for fiberglass duct wrap, reflective radiant barriers or foamed insulation panels that you can attach to its internal side, to make the door more energy efficient. A word of caution: If you keep cars in the garage, be careful not to make the area so airtight that exhaust fumes can’t escape, which can cause carbon monoxide poisoning.

 

 

Make the Light Bulb Switch

 

Make the Light Bulb SwitchYou’ve made the effort to switch your indoor lights to CFL or LED bulbs, so take that energy efficiency motivation right into the garage. If you use long fluorescent tubes as your light fixtures, switch them to CFL or LED tubes and they’ll pay for themselves in less than nine months, according the Department of Energy. Install a manual light timer that you can adjust to shut off garage lights after a few minutes. Look for an ultrasonic timer, which detects sound, or find an infrared one that detects heat and motion.

 

 

Spare Refrigerators Can Be Costly

 

Spare Refrigerators Can Be CostlyDo you have an old refrigerator in the garage that you keep for parties and holiday food overflow? If it is running constantly but is unused and empty most of the time, unplug it, or it can add up to more than $100 per year on your utility bills. In an unconditioned garage during hot weather, your refrigerator has to work extra hard to retain a cool temperature. Give your refrigerator a break, and move it to the basement if you have one. And if your appliance is old, consider this from the EnergyStar.gov website: more than 60 million refrigerators are over 10 years old, costing consumers $4.7 billion a year in energy costs! When you buy a new ENERGY STAR certified refrigerator, you can save between $35–$300 on energy costs over its lifetime. Don’t forget to call your utility company to pick up your old one and recycle it for you!

 

You may not think the garage contributes much to your utility bill, but it is likely the most inefficient room for energy in your home. Instead of thinking of your garage as an extension of the outdoors, consider it as part of your house and take steps to reduce its energy usage and your utility costs.