Earth Day is almost here and we’re all looking to do our part. With that in mind, we have put together a short list of 6 simple tips to help you go green this year. The best part is, you can implement these year round, and it will save you some serious cash!
Some of the easiest ways to conserve energy can be found right in your kitchen. A few quick adjustments can drastically reduce the energy consumption of your biggest energy offenders: your appliances. Let’s take a look at just a few of them now.
Because it cycles on and off all day, every day, the refrigerator consumes more electricity than nearly every appliance in your home. On average, it costs about $90 per year to operate. The good news is you can reduce that cost by about half by making a few quick adjustments:
1. Change the Temperature. More often than not, we set the thermostat higher than is actually necessary. This can increase consumption by as much 25%. By simply maintaining 37 – 40° F for the fresh food compartment and 0 – 5° F in the freezer compartment, you can save as much as $22 per year. If your model does not offer an onboard temperature display, it’s worth investing in 2 appliance thermometers as they only cost a few dollars and can save much more over time.
2. Keep the Coils Clean. It’s critical that you maintain the condensor coils properly or you’ll put undue stress on your refrigerator unit. As it accumulates dust, air flow is restricted, which forces the machine to work harder and longer than normal. You should vacuum away the dust that accumulates on the mechanism about every 6 months to avoid this. Also, check to see that there is at least a 3″ clearance behind the fridge to ensure proper ventilation. This routine practice can trim up to 5% off the unit’s annual operating cost.
3. Switch to an Ice Tray. As convenient as the automatic ice maker is, it’s a huge energy waster, potentially increasing consumption by 14 – 20%. By switching off the ice maker and using trays, you can save about $12 – $18 off your annual electricity bill. Most units require little more than a lift of the sensor arm to switch them off. To reclaim the space remove the entire unit. Most often it’s a very simple task that requires no special knowledge or tools.
Ovens & Ranges
Ovens and ranges also offer a few easy opportunities to save energy. Because of the nature of their function, the key is to properly manage cook times and space. Whether it’s gas, electric or dual fuel, these tips will absolutely help you save:
1. Turn It Off Early. It’s a fact that electric stovetop burners retain heat well after you power them off. You can take advantage of this characteristic by simply turning them off several minutes before the end of the cook time. The residual heat will continue to cook the food without using additional energy to do so. The same technique can be applied to electric ovens. The savings can add up to a couple bucks every month.
2. Match Pan to the Burner. When a small pan is placed on a big burner you can practically see the money disappearing into thin air. By matching the burner to the pan, electricity won’t be squandered heating the kitchen rather than the food. The reverse is true, too. A small burner will take considerably longer to heat a large pan than would an appropriately sized burner. For gas stoves, don’t let the flames lick the sides of the pot. Follow these tips and watch the utility bills shrink by a few dollars a month.
3. Stop Preheating Altogether. You can save about $2 a month by not preheating your oven. Many cooks agree that the practice is wholly unnecessary for all but a few recipes, like baking breads and cakes. This approach may add a few minutes to the overall cooking time, but it eliminates all that wait time on the front end. It may seem somewhat counterintuitive but it works.
Of course, there is always more that can be done to save energy around the house but these 6 easy tips can make a big difference without much trade off. So go ahead and give them a try! You’ll be delighted by the results.