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



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



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



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.


Have It Made in the Shade: Shopping Tips for Auto Tint

If you’re considering tinting your car windows, you probably know about some of the many benefits, such as reduction of heat and glare. But where do you begin when it comes to choosing the right auto window film and installer?



Choosing Window Film


Choosing Window FilmYou may want to start with the window film and then choose your installer, because different installers carry different types of window film. Window film that blocks damaging UV rays is a popular choice and it can actually help you lower your carbon footprint. Another thing to look for in window film is if it’s covered under a warranty. This speaks to the quality of the film and if something does go wrong, you won’t lose any money. All of Madico’s window films are covered by a warranty and many are covered by a lifetime warranty. You’ll also want to choose a shade. Today’s technology has delivered a range of shade choices from dark to extremely light, while still delivering all of the benefits. Take a look at this tint simulator to visualize how dark or light you can go. You’ll also want to know the window tinting laws in your state, but a good installer should also be familiar with these rules.



Choosing an Installer


Choosing an InstallerLike choosing any business, one of the best ways to make your decision is by asking others who they recommend. You can also view online referrals and rankings on various sites. Once you’ve identified some credible options, ask the installer how long he or she has been in business at their current location. The longer the better as longevity is a sign that they offer good quality and service at fair prices. You’ll also want to see samples of their work. This article has detailed illustrations that show you what to look for.



Don’t DIY


Don’t DIYYou may be tempted to save some money and try a do-it-yourself kit, but there are several reasons why it’s smart to go with a professional window tinting company. Check out this article on Angie’s List that explains why.



To find a Madico Window Films dealer in your area, call 888-887-2022 or email


A Bright Idea: Outdoor Solar Lights

Outdoor solar lights are an easy way to conserve energy and are available in all of the same options as electric outdoor lighting, from decorative string lights and lanterns to spotlights and path lights. Moreover, their benefits go beyond lowering your electric bill and helping to save the planet.


Solar lights are easy to maintain because they automatically turn on and off according to the sunlight level. They don’t have the insulation and corrosion issues that wires do. And speaking of wires, your yard is a safer place without them – no tripping or injuries from exposed wires and less threat of fires. Another safety perk is that solar lights keep working even when the power goes out.


Many people have the misconception that solar lights won’t last very long, and that may have been true in the past. But now, with improved solar technology, solar lights can last for up to 10 hours.



Enlightening Tips


If you aren’t already using outdoor solar lights, here are a few things to keep in mind:


  • A minimum of eight hours of sunshine per day is ideal to adequately charge solar lights.Enlightening Tips
  • If areas of your yard are shaded, a photovoltaic panel can be used to power the solar lights in those areas. The panel can be placed on your roof or in a sunny spot in your yard and then connected to the solar lights.
  • Solar lights aren’t as bright as regular lights, so you’ll need more to achieve the lighting you want. For example, you’ll probably want to use twice as many solar lights to adequately light a pathway.
  • Solar lights vary in brightness according to their size and the quality of their photovoltaic cells. So a general rule of thumb is that the more expensive the solar light, the brighter it will shine.
  • Solar lights emit a bright white light. If you prefer a warmer glow, purchase tinted solar lights categorized as “soft white” or “amber.”


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.


The 411 on Zero Net Energy Homes

To save energy at home, you may start small by unplugging countertop appliances and turning off all the lights before you leave. Over time, you could seal any air leaks and install a programmable thermostat. Eventually, you might end up with solar panels on your roof. This natural progression toward a more cost-saving home is not as radical as you may think. In fact, you could reach a whole new level of energy efficiency known as a “zero net energy” home.



What does zero net energy mean?


What does zero net energy meanA zero net energy building must produce as much or more energy than it needs to maintain. This entails a renewable energy system and various energy efficiency measures that will offset the home’s annual energy consumption.



How do I achieve zero net energy?


How do I achieve zero net energyTaking small steps and implementing a few energy-saving tactics at a time is perhaps a smart way to go about it, especially if you’re working with an older home. Dan and Christine Fisher of Tampa, Florida did exactly that. Their 20-year-old home was built with some efficient characteristics, but this “green” couple took it all the way to the top.

If you, too, seek the ultimate in energy efficiency, the Department of Energy’s Zero Energy Ready Home program has guidelines. They include:

  • Having an Energy Star-approved HVAC system in place
  • Meeting the standards for proper water management (as established by Energy Star)
  • Featuring high-performance windows
  • Installing insulation that’s up to par with the International Energy Conservation Code
  • Following the best recommendations for an air duct system
  • Conserving water through an efficient hot water system, typically a tankless water heater
  • Offering indoor air quality that meets the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Indoor airPlus Program standards
  • Potentially using solar energy sources where they comply with the EPA’s solar electric guide

For more details on each of these efforts as they pertain to your home and your state’s policies, consult a Zero Energy Ready Home partner.



What are the gains from a zero net energy home?


What are the gains from a zero net energy homeThe Fishers started with insulating the attic and then quickly moved on to their windows. Living in a hurricane-risk state, these Floridians opted for Energy Star certified double-paned windows. Of course, they didn’t stop there. To make their windows more efficient, they covered them with Madico’s Exterior 20 window film. This simple change blocked heat without compromising the performance of the double-paned glass. It was estimated that the window film alone contributed to a 4% reduction in energy usage. Ultimately, this Tampa couple got their electric bill down to $17 per month from $500.

When working toward a zero net energy home, you’ll notice that small improvements, like adding window film, can make a large impact on your overall savings. analyzed various DOE Zero Energy Ready homes to find that they saved up to $101 per month on utility costs. On top of the monetary savings is the value in knowing that you’ve lowered your carbon footprint – and that’s priceless.


What Your Electric Bill Can Tell You about Energy Use

When was the last time you looked at your electric bill beyond the total due? By taking a closer look at the numbers, you may identify details to help you understand your energy usage or get clues of why one month’s total differs from another. Get your past year’s electric bills together to see if you can discover ways to become more efficient with your home energy use.



Understanding the Cost


Understanding the CostPrimarily, the total of your electric bill comes from your monthly usage of kilowatt hours (kWh). Typically, kilowatt hours are determined by subtracting your previous month’s kWh meter reading from your current month’s, and the difference is then multiplied by the company’s energy rate.


But what exactly is a kilowatt hour? Each home appliance or electrical device draws wattage. Kilowatt hours are figured by multiplying an item’s wattage by the total hours it draws energy, with 1,000 watt hours of energy equating to one kilowatt hour. For example, if a 100-watt light bulb burns for 10 hours, it consumes 1,000 watt hours of energy or one kilowatt hour.


Equation 3



Seasonal Charges


Seasonal ChargesFor many of us, summer and winter temperatures force your cooling and heating systems to work overtime to keep you comfortable. Because of this, most people expect to see a temporary bill increase, but check if your company’s energy rate is higher at these times as well. Investing in a programmable thermostat and setting the temperature 15 degrees off of your comfort zone while you are at work or asleep can help you decrease your energy usage in the extreme seasons no matter what the rate.



Peak Rates


Peak RatesSome electric companies employ a time-of-use rate structure, which can mean your rate is higher during daily peak hours. Generally, peak hours occur on weekdays from morning until mid-evening, with all other hours and weekends as off-peak times. Can you save your laundry time or heavier cooking sessions for the weekend? During the week, does every light, television, and electronic device need to be on the moment everyone gets home for the day? Could you run the dishwasher right before you head to bed?



Energy Usage Trends


Energy Usage TrendsMost electric bills include your daily average energy use and electric cost. Additionally, you may see a graph showing month-to-month usage or even usage comparables from the previous year. Think about what energy increases you incurred during higher cost months because some companies charge a higher rate after you go above a set amount of monthly kilowatt hours. Did you purchase new electronics or a second refrigerator? Perhaps one month you entertained out-of-town guests, worked remotely, or had the kids home on break. Or, if the total has increased steadily, it may be time to purchase more efficient appliances or seal air leaks around older windows and doors.


Start using your monthly electric bill to help you pinpoint how to be more efficient with your home energy usage. Additionally, your electric company’s website will often provide you with more assistance through bill calculators, rate and meter options, and summaries with even further analysis.


Travel Green and Save Energy

Green travel encompasses a wide variety of practices that support sustainability. While many of these are not directly related to energy efficiency, two of your biggest travel choices are: where to stay and what transportation to use. As our society continues to become more eco-conscious, the list of green offerings continues to grow, making it easier than ever to travel the planet while being kind to it.



Green Hotels


Green HotelsHotels can earn green certifications for a range of sustainability factors, including energy efficiency, water conservation, recycling, and environmental impact. One of the most well known designations comes from the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) program. These hotels have been built or renovated with best-in-class practices that conserve resources and promote renewable energy. Some other established green hotel designations come from Green Key, Green Seal and Energy Star.


TripAdvisor makes it easy to find green hotels with their GreenLeaders program. You simply “look for the leaf” – a special badge placed on a green hotel’s listing page. When you click on the leaf, a window comes up where you can see that hotel’s green practices and certifications. Expedia offers a whole microsite on green travel, complete with hotel options that “balance environmental protection and social responsibility – without sacrificing luxury.”



Green Transportation


Green TransportationIf you have to fly to your destination, fly nonstop, as the plane’s takeoff and landing are a significant percentage of its carbon emissions. Taking the train is a better way to go, or driving, though the type of car you drive obviously makes a difference. Once you’re at your destination, consider using public transit, biking or walking instead of taking a cab or renting a car. If you do rent a car, go with the smallest one to fit your needs or rent a hybrid.


Check out Global Green Travel for even more tips.


Benefits of Window Film in Hospitals

Aesthetics, energy efficiency, safety, and heat reduction are some of the many benefits that both homeowners and business owners receive from window film. But it is not just limited to houses and cars. Hospitals and health care facilities, like Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center in Houston, Texas, have installed window film as a means for both protection and energy efficiency.



Safety & Security Window Films


Safety & Security Window FilmsSafety, care, and protection are all major objectives that hospitals try to achieve with every patient. To further this commitment, Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center installed Madico’s safety & security window films earlier this year. With its location relative to the Gulf Coast, it was prone to harsh weather conditions resulting in severe damages. The 850-bed health and surgical facility, made up of an extensive number of windows, needed an additional layer of security to account for serious weather damages. Window film was the plausible solution for this issue, and now there is a sense of “greater safety and peace of mind” among the patients and the St. Luke’s team.



Protection from Natural Disasters and Crime


Protection from Natural Disasters and CrimeIn the case of a natural disaster, medical facilities need to have a plan for their patients’ safety. Specially designed window films reduce the risk of damages by helping shattered glass hold together, preventing flying shards of glass and protecting the patients and the valuable medical equipment. Glass windows and doors are highly susceptible to weather damages and burglary. Shattered glass can expose a hospital building or hospital rooms, along with expensive medical equipment to intruders and theft. While window film doesn’t prevent intrusions, it does make it much more difficult for thieves to get inside.



Sun Protection & Energy Efficiency


Sun Protection & Energy EfficiencyAdditionally, window film rejects 99% of harmful UV rays that cause skin cancer, providing another form of protection for hospital patients. It can also block up to 86% of the sun’s heat, making a medical facility more comfortable for those being treated. The significant reduction of the sun’s heat aids in the building’s energy efficiency as less energy is needed from the HVAC cooling systems and can save up to 30% of a building’s cooling costs.


With window film installed, Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center’s team and patients share relief to know they are in a place that is both comfortable, and more importantly, safe. Click here to read the full story.


Why You Should Service Your Air Conditioner

With warmer temperatures, you’ve probably noticed an increase in running your home air conditioning unit and higher monthly energy bills. Home cooling costs for United States’ homeowners is an average of $11 billion annually. Per household, average cooling costs make up 6% of the entire electric bill. By properly maintaining your AC unit throughout the year and scheduling an annual checkup with a professional technician, you can cut down on your cooling costs and will have a longer lasting cooling unit.



AC Useful Life


AC Useful LifeThere are several types of air conditioners, with the most common being room cooling systems and central AC units. Room air conditioners have a 10 to 15 year lifespan and central air conditioners have a 20 year useful life. By providing the proper maintenance to your air conditioning units, you will maximize its efficiency which will also maximize the appliance’s useful life.



Change the Filter


Change the FilterTo ensure that your air conditioning unit is working as efficiently and effectively as possible, routinely change your air filters. The air filter is a component in cooling systems that needs to be changed frequently. Hair, pet fur, dust, dirt, leaves, and any other debris can leave you with a dirty and clogged filter. How frequently you change your air filter depends on several factors including pets and allergies. Typically filters can be changed every other month; however with pets and/or allergies, your air filter could need to be replaced every 30 to 45 days. A clean air filter will make your unit operate efficiently and can save you five to 15% on your energy bill.



Call a Professional


Call a ProfessionalAn annual air conditioning technician will check to make sure everything within the unit is running properly. Spring is a good time of year to make this appointment. You can beat the mid-summer rush of people who later discover a faulty cooling system and desperately need assistance. The professional technician will be able to check the refrigerant level and check for any leaks. They should be able to identify any minor issues that, if not noticed at an early stage, could become large, costly repairs in the future.


Air conditioning units reduce the moisture in your home and keep you living comfortable during those hotter months. Routinely maintain your air conditioner so that it will use less energy to cool your home and cut down on your electric expenses.


How to Save on Energy with Outdated Appliances

When a light bulb burns out, you replace it. When a door knob wiggles loose, you fix it. Appliances, however, aren’t always so simple to fix. For many, when shopping for an appliance, energy efficiency is top priority– especially since they make up 13% of your home’s total energy costs. But keep in mind that dryers, refrigerators, and dishwashers are built to last for years. So before you consider getting rid of your outdated appliances, implement these simple tricks to help prolong their efficiency.



Refrigerator and Freezer


Refrigerator and FreezerIn addition to properly storing your food, the Food and Drug Administration recommends keeping your fridge set at or below 40°F and the freezer at 0°F. That’s perfectly in line with the website’s recommended 35-38°F, which  is optimal for keeping food fresh and your fridge running for the long term. You’ll also want to be sure your refrigerator door shuts securely. Not even a dollar bill should be able to slide through the seal. Of course, if it does, resealing the door (or drawer) is a quick fix.


Defrosting your refrigerator is a more tedious task, but one that’s integral to keeping an outdated appliance from using excess energy. Any more than a quarter-inch of frost buildup will largely impact your appliance’s cooling ability. Since older refrigerators often feature manual defrost systems, you’ll want to check this about once a week. Follow the defrosting instructions specific to your make and model.





DishwasherDishwashers built before 1994 can waste more than 10 gallons of water per cycle. But the process of heating that water is the greatest source of expense. The Energy department recommends lowering your home’s water heater to 120°F. When selecting a wash mode, skip “rinse and hold”; it uses 3-7 gallons of hot water. Instead, choose the “air dry” setting, shut off the dishwasher once it’s done rinsing, and crack open the door to let dishes dry.


It may be tempting to let the machine do all of the work. Unfortunately, this is not a luxury for older units. You can avoid having to run a second cycle, or use hot water to finish them by hand, when you take a few minutes to scrape leftover food into the trash or garbage disposal.



Clothes Washer


Clothes WasherYou don’t need a brand new high-efficiency washer; just be mindful of how much energy is required by hot-water loads. Navigate around costs by choosing a cold-water setting. Only wash clothes when you have a full load, and adjust the water level accordingly. As long as clothes aren’t caked in mud, you can get away with a low-soil setting to limit water usage.






DryerIt’s almost too easy, but cleaning the lint screen after every load can help your dryer run more efficiently. Whenever possible, hang clothes to dry. If clothes and towels become too stiff from air drying, throw them in the dryer for about five minutes with one fabric softener sheet. It’s just enough time to fluff up your laundry without using much energy at all.


Remember, no matter how outdated your appliances may look on the outside, it’s how efficiently they work that will ultimately save you energy and money.