Energy Efficient Kitchens
The average American home spends about 20 percent of total household energy bills on running electronic devices and appliances; things like computers, refrigerators, washing machines and dryers, televisions, stereos, and dishwashers comprise the bulk of most home energy usage. Coincidentally, many of the most common—and most heavily used—household appliances are in the kitchen. The following tips will help you boost your kitchen’s energy efficiency, reduce your monthly utility bills, and trim down your family’s carbon footprint.
Refrigerators and Freezers
Be sure to set your refrigerator and freezer to a reasonable temperature. Most manufacturers have recommended temperature settings clearly marked near the climate control panel inside the appliance. If you can’t find it, a good temperature range is between 35 and 38 degrees Fahrenheit for refrigerators, and 0 degrees Fahrenheit for free-standing freezers.
A full fridge or freezer is much more energy efficient than an empty one. Whenever possible, stock them to near-capacity to reduce the compressor’s workload. This can also delay food thawing and warming in the event of a power outage.
Try to position the refrigerator in a cool spot, away from heat sources like the oven or a window that received direct sunlight most of the day. This keeps the fridge cooler overall and prevents the appliance from having to run overtime to compensate for the extra heat.
Freezers should never be placed in an area of extreme temperatures, particularly outdoors. Drastic climate changes can force the compressor to work overtime, causing premature wear and tear. Basements and garages are suitable alternatives if you don’t have room in your kitchen.
Air should be able to move freely behind the fridge or freezer. Set the appliance a few inches from the wall and regularly clean condenser coils (if you have an older model) so there’s no dust or debris restricting air flow. Your owner’s guide will have detailed information on how to safely clean the coils, and you can find specialty cleaning brushes at most major hardware stores.
Check the door seals and make sure they’re intact and airtight. If you notice any gapping, sagging, bunching or breakage replace the seals immediately.
Only open the fridge or freezer door when necessary and close the door when you’re not actively loading or unloading items.
We’ve all heard the joke about washing the dishes before we wash the dishes (in the dishwasher). While most new models can handle large food particles, many of us are still in the habit of rinsing dishes before we load them in the washer. However, you can save more than 20 gallons of water simply by scraping dirty dishes instead of hand rinsing them before they go in the dishwasher.
There’s very little difference between the amount of water and energy a dishwasher uses on a full load and on a light load, but frequent cycles obviously use more energy—and cost more. To maximize your machine’s efficiency, try to run it only when it’s full.If your dishwasher has a drying feature, turn it off or choose the no-heat option. Heat drying requires even more energy and doesn’t make a significant difference in drying results.