Buying an Energy Saving Television

So, your old picture tube television has finally stopped working, and you’re in the market for a new one. With all of the choices available now, choosing a television isn’t as easy as it used to be. To add to the confusion, many new sets use a lot more electricity than the old ones. If you’re trying to cut down your energy use, this is something to consider before buying. Here are some things to look for.

Energy Star Certification – this is a good place to start, but since many television meet the criteria for certification, you might want to look at other factors as well.

LCD versus Plasma – LCD televisions use less energy.

Size – Bigger TVs eat up more power. If you need a huge TV, find a rear projection one, since they are more efficient.

Type of backlight – LCD televisions, unlike plasmas, use backlights. There are two kinds of backlights, CCFL and LED. Newer televisions use LED which conserves more energy.

In many households, televisions are on a lot more than they used to be. If your family has multiple TVs, game boxes or DVD player that are used regularly, this adds to energy consumption. Choosing the right TV is one way of reducing your electric bill.

Turn Off the Exhaust Fans

Bathroom fans are great to have when you want to remove steam after taking a shower or bath. They will prevent mold, and save wear on your wallpaper or paint. Kitchen fans also provide a way to expel hot air or odors. However, in addition to costing money to run, they waste energy because they are removing the heated or cooled air that your furnace or air conditioner has provided. The longer the fan runs, the more of the warm or cool air from the house is being lost to the outdoors.

If you are buying a new exhaust fan for the bathroom, try to get one with a sensor, so that it will shut off automatically when the moisture is gone. If your fan doesn’t have a sensor, you might try setting the timer on your microwave for 15 or 20 minutes so that you’ll remember to turn if off. You could also do this with the kitchen fan.

Remember, also, that when your furnace is running, you may not need to run the bathroom exhaust fan as long. The dry air from the furnace will remove much of the moisture.

Appliance Rebates

In an effort to encourage people to update their appliances to more energy saving units, while keeping them out of the landfills, some companies offer to pick up the old ones for free, or even in some cases, give you a rebate, check, tax credit or credit on your utility bill.

Consumers Energy has a program now that will pick up and recycle your freezer or refrigerator and give you a check for $30. If you purchase a more efficient appliance, you will get the $30 and reap the benefits of paying less to run it.

The US Department of Energy has a website where you can enter your zip code, and check the items that you would like to have picked up. It will then list the companies in your area that recycle those items, and whether or not there are any cash benefits. You can find that site here: http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=recycle.pr_refrigerator_rec.

Use Your Clothes Dryer Efficiently

Most families use their clothes dryers several times a week, and it’s important to use them efficiently in order to save money and energy. Of course, the least costly way to dry clothes would be to hang them on a clothes line or rack. Unfortunately, many people lead such busy lives that this isn’t an option. However, there are a few basic things you can do to make sure that you’re getting the most out of your dryer.

  1. When you sort your clothes, don’t just sort whites and colors. Try to dry heavier items and lighter items separately.
  2. Consider running an extra spin cycle on your washer to remove more water, and thus reduce drying time.
  3. Twisted clothes take longer to dry. Untangle your clothes when you remove them from the washer by giving them a good shake.
  4. Don’t overload the dryer. You may think you’re saving money by cramming it full, but it needs some room for air circulation.
  5. Use the cool down cycle at the end of your drying time. There will still be heat in the dryer to finish the job.
  6. Try to plan your laundry so you are doing consecutive loads. That way, your dryer will be all warmed up already.
  7. Clean the lint filter after every load. This is probably the most important thing you can do, because a clogged filter reduces energy efficiency, and makes your dryer work harder.
  8. Clean the dryer vent on a regular basis. You’d be amazed at the amount of lint that collects there. Built up lint reduces efficiency and can cause a fire.

Conserving Energy While Cooking

You wouldn’t think that you could save much money by altering the way you cook, but every little thing you do adds up. Making a few easy changes can lower your gas or electric bill.

  • Your stove top has different size burners. Use the burner that fits your pan. Putting a small pan on a larger burner wastes energy. By the same token, putting a large pan on a small burner means the heat won’t circulate as well, and cooking times will be longer.
  • Use the correct size pan for the item you are cooking, so that you are not heating up more than is necessary.
  • Use the lid, at least when first heating up your food. Even if you’re only heating water, it will take less time to boil.
  • When boiling water for coffee or tea, measure the amount of water you need beforehand.
  • If you have a choice, use ceramic or glass dishes. They conduct heat better, and you can a use a lower oven temperature.
  • Thaw meat in the refrigerator ahead of time instead of thawing it in the oven.
  • If you’re planning on cleaning your self-cleaning oven, do it after you’ve been using your oven for cooking so it will already be partially heated up.
  • Don’t preheat your oven. It’s usually not necessary unless you’re baking.
  • Try turning off your oven 10 minutes early when doing cooking other than baking. It retains the heat, and will keep cooking during that time.
  • Keep the oven door closed and the lids on whenever possible to keep heat from escaping.
  • Try to plan one dish meals, or meals in which all courses can be cooked together in the oven at the same time.
  • Throw out pans that are warped on the bottom, as they don’t distribute heat evenly.
  • Keep your oven and stove top clean for maximum efficiency.
  • Use other small appliances instead of your kitchen stove when possible. Toaster ovens, microwaves, crock pots and electric kettles all use less energy.

Efficient Clothes Washing

Although you may not have the means right now to purchase a new more efficient washing machine, you can still save money by changing the way you use your current one.

  • If your clothes are lightly soiled, there is no need to wash them in hot water. In fact, this causes more wear and tear on them. Try using cold water first.
  • If you have more soiled clothes, pre-treat them so that you can still wash in cold water.
  • Soaking heavily soiled clothes first will also help to loosen dirt and stains.
  • Always rinse your clothes in cold water.
  • Use the correct amount of detergent so that you don’t have to use two rinses to remove all the soap. Experiment with using a little less. Soap that remains on your clothes is hard on them.
  • Make sure you have a full load before doing your laundry.
  • Some machines have partial load settings. Use these if you don’t have a full load.
  • Don’t overload your machine as this will cause it to run harder, and your clothes may not get as clean.
  • Keep your washing machine clean and in good repair so that it will run more efficiently.

Efficient Dishwashing

Modern dishwashers are more efficient than they used to be, but you can save even more energy and money if you follow a few guidelines.

  1. The most important thing is to only run your dishwasher when it is full.
  2. Scrape the food scraps off the dishes before loading, but don’t bother to rinse them. That’s what your dishwasher is for.
  3. If you don’t have heavy soiling, try using a light washing cycle. It will take less time and use less water.
  4. If you have an air dry feature on your unit, use it. Heated drying isn’t necessary. If you don’t have this feature, you can just open the dishwasher door after the last rinse.
  5. Some dishwashers also have a heat booster, which heats your water to a higher temperature. If you can turn down your home water heater and use the heat booster for your dishwasher, you will save energy.
  6. Unless you are careful to conserve water, hand washing dishes throughout the day quite often uses more energy. It’s better to put them in the dishwasher.
  7. Load your dishwasher correctly in order to get the most dishes in it, and to allow the water and air to circulate freely.

Saving Money on Clothes Dryers

If you’re in the market for a new clothes dryer, it pays to do some research ahead of time. A basic dryer doesn’t have to cost a great deal of money, and may be all that you need.

  • The first thing you need to do is decide whether to get an electric or gas model. If you don’t currently have a gas hook-up, it would be an additional expense to have this installed. If you have both an electric and a gas hook-up already, you might want to go with the gas unit. Even though it costs more initially, you will recoup this in energy savings.
  • Measure the area where it will be installed, so that you know you will have adequate space.
  • Visit some stores, and check online to compare prices. Talk to salespeople about the various features.
  • Think about which features are important to you, and be realistic about which ones you would really use. Most people settle in to using only a few settings.
  • Less expensive models tend to have thermostats rather than moisture control sensors. The moisture control sensors are better at determining when your clothes are dry. Therefore, a dryer with this feature will save energy and cause less wear and tear on your clothes.
  • Electronic controls look sharp but generally cost more than manual controls. In addition, they may be hard to read in a dimly lit laundry area. They also cost more to repair if they break.
  • Choose a dryer size that is in line with your washer size.
  • Colors other than white will generally cost more.
  • Check to see if there are floor models or scratch-and-dent models that would be less expensive.
  • If you are purchasing a washing machine at the same time, you may be able to get a better deal.

Choosing a Washing Machine

Choosing a washing machine has become a little more difficult as new features and innovations have become available. However, you don’t need to spend a great deal of money to find one that gets your clothes clean.

  1. Start by doing some research and becoming familiar with the various options. Visit some stores and talk to some salespeople about the machines they have.
  2. Measure the space that you have available. Machines come in standard sizes as well as extra capacity and compact.
  3. Determine which size you need. For most people, the standard size is the way to go. However, if you have a large family, you may find that you can do fewer loads with a larger model, and thus save time and money.
  4. Think about the type of washing you do. If you don’t have clothes that requires special care, you probably don’t need a lot of washing programs. In addition, more programs and features often lead to more repairs.
  5. Energy efficiency should be a prime factor in your decision. Look for the energy star ratings.
  6. A front loading machine is more energy efficient and wrinkles your clothes less. However, it costs more initially, and requires special detergent. It does use less detergent and less water though.
  7. Spin speed improves the extraction of water and reduces drying time. A fast speed is not always a good thing because it causes more wear and tear on your clothes and may be noisier.
  8. If you need a dryer also, you may be able to get a better deal if you buy both at the same time.
  9. White is the cheapest color.
  10. See if the dealer has any floor models or scratch and dent units for less.

Dishwasher Buying Tips

As with buying any appliance, buying a dishwasher requires some thought and planning. Dishwashers have improved over the years, both in cleaning ability and efficiency. With that improvement, though, has come a dizzying array of new features which you need to sort through and understand before making your choice.

  • The first thing you need to do is measure the space where the dishwasher will go to make sure that your new one will fit. Decide what size of dishwasher you want. Although there is a standard size, you can also opt for a smaller one, or even a portable or counter top model.
  • Do some research ahead of time to find out what features are available. Go to a few stores and talk to a salesperson about their store’s products. Talk to friends and relatives about their dishwashers and ask them what they like or don’t like about them.
  • Check out the energy star ratings to see which dishwashers will cost you less to run.
  • Now comes the tough part – sorting through all of those features. Ask your friends and relatives which ones they use. Like most people, even though there are numerous wash programs, they probably only use two or three of them. Why pay for more if you’re not going to use them?
  • Moveable racks can come in handy, but if you’re never going to move them, don’t pay for them.
  • Colors and fancy exteriors will cost more.
  • Quiet dishwashers have more insulation and may cost more. However, it may be worth paying for if this is important to you.
  • A feature which allows the dishes to air dry may also be worth the money if you use it. It comes in handy in warm months when you may not want the hot air venting into your kitchen.
  • When you get ready to buy, see if there are any floor models or scratch-and-dent models that are being offered at a discount.
  • For more in-depth information, check out this site: http://www.dishwasherguru.com/index.html.