Being Kinder To Our Planet And To Our Bottom Line: Part Two

 In a perfect world, we would replace all of our household appliances with more energy efficient models. Unfortunately that is not a realistic option. Instead, the next best approach is to make sure the appliances we have are functioning properly.

The following is what you need to know about how to better use your existing appliances:

Refrigerator/Freezer

  • Position your refrigerator away from a heat source such as an oven, a dishwasher, or direct sunlight from a window.
  • To allow air to circulate around the condenser coils, leave a space between the wall or cabinets and the refrigerator or freezer and keep the coils clean.
  • Make sure the door seals are airtight. Simply place a piece of paper between the door and the refrigerator box, if the paper does not move great, if it slices out then your rubber sealant should be replaced
  • Keep your refrigerator between 35 and 38 degrees Fahrenheit and your freezer at 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Minimize the amount of time the refrigerator door is open

Dishwasher

  • Always run your dishwasher with a full load. Most of the energy used by a dishwasher goes to heat water. Since you can’t decrease the amount of water used per cycle, fill your dishwasher to get the most from the energy used to run it.
  • Avoid using the heat-dry, rinse-hold and pre-rinse features. Instead use your dishwasher’s air-dry option.

Clothes Washer

  • Fill it up, clothes washers use about the same amount of energy regardless of the size of the load, so run full loads whenever possible.
  • Wash in cold water as much as possible. Switching your temperature setting from hot to warm can cut energy use in half. Using the cold cycle reduces energy use even more.
  • Where and when possible, air-dry clothes instead of using a dryer. Use a drying rack or hang clothes outside.
  • If your clothes washer has spin options, choose a high spin speed or the extended spin option to reduce the amount of remaining moisture in your clothes after washing. This decreases the amount of time it takes to dry your clothes.
  • Leave the door open after use, when the machine is not in use, the seal can trap moisture in the machine which can lead to mold. Leave the door ajar for an hour or two after every use to allow moisture to evaporate. Make sure your kiddies do not climb into the machine while the door is open.
  • Rinse your washer once a month by running a normal cycle with 1 cup of bleach to help reduce the risk of mold or mildew buildup. Consult the product owner’s manual before attempting.

Air Conditioners

  • For better temperature control, use timers. This will allow you to use the minimum amount of energy you need to cool your room.
  • Make sure each air conditioner in your home is properly sized for the room that it is in.
    Water Heaters
  • Most water heaters last about 10-15 years, so before your’s goes caput, research your next purchase. By acting early, you have more control of your purchase and can start saving money right away.
  • Flush the water heater every six months. The buildup of sediment in the tank can reduce your water heater’s energy efficiency and also clog your water lines.

Water Heaters

  • Most water heaters last about 10-15 years, so before your’s goes caput, research your next purchase. By acting early, you have more control of your purchase and can start saving money right away.
  • Flush the water heater every six months. The buildup of sediment in the tank can reduce your water heater’s energy efficiency and also clog your water lines.

Ceiling Fans

Ceiling fans are known for stirring up air during the summer months, but did you know that they should be doing the same thing during the winter months? A ceiling fan can actually save you about 30% on your cooling costs and 10% on your heating costs when run in combination with adjusting your home’s temperature by two degrees.

  • Make sure your fan is at least seven feet from the ground and make sure there’s ample room for the blades to spin unencumbered, at least 24″ from the closest wall.
  • Remember that a fan with a light kit increases its versatility. Fans that don’t come with a light are adaptable in case you ever want to add one.
  • If you are replacing an existing fan, purchase the largest fan your room will allow. A larger fan moves more air at lower speeds, which reduces noise and increases the fan’s life span, since it doesn’t have to work as hard.
  • Check how your fans have been installed. The right type of mounting maximizes the cooling effect. For a low ceiling make sure it is a flush mount and /or semi-flush mount fan. For a high ceiling make sure it’s a downrod. To bring the circulating action down into the room and for a sloped ceilings an angled mount is required, usually sold separately.
  • If you have an outdoor fan be sure that the motor is designed to withstand moisture and temperature changes and that the blades are constructed from a man-made material that won’t warp with humidity.
  • Want the ultimate convenience? Add a remote control! Some remotes even have special sensors that will turn the fan on and off automatically or adjust fan speed based on room temperature. Pretty Cool.

Insulation

Homeowners, especially those who live in older homes, can reduce heating and cooling costs by up to 20% (up to 10% of total energy costs) by sealing their homes and adding insulation in attics, floors, over crawl spaces and on accessible basement rim joists.

The leading cause of energy waste in the home is inadequate insulation and air leakage. Start by checking your attic. Is there existing insulation? Is there enough? If not add insulation to improve the warmth of your home. Second check the basement. If unfinished, use a blanket insulation with a flame-resistant polypropylene facing; if finished use a faced or unfaced batting insulation between studs in a framed wall

But before taking on these projects make sure to inspect your home thoroughly for any signs of water damage or water leakage. If these problems are not addressed before insulating your home, you may run the risk of long term mold growth and/ or poor indoor air quality. Please take the time to inspect carefully. Also be sure to use proper gear, such as a face mask or respirator, protective clothing, safety glasses, and a work light when inspecting, as airborne fiberglass is irritating to the eyes, skin and lungs. Please be careful and always read instructions before starting a new project. Enjoy your home.

Energy efficient choices can save families about a third on their energy bill — with similar savings on greenhouse gas emissions — without sacrificing features, style or comfort. ENERGY STAR helps you make the energy efficient choice.

Help protect the environment and visit ENERGY STAR.Gov

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