Making Appliances More Energy Efficient and Saving Money in the Process
Eco-friendly things like recycling cans and reusing bags have become commonplace.
As the world becomes more eco-friendly, things like recycling cans and reusing bags have become commonplace. These simple activities not only help people demonstrate their concern for the environment, but also give them the opportunity to make or save money.
However, there are plenty of other eco-friendly, money-saving lifestyle adjustments you can make that you may not be entirely aware of. For example, taking inventory of all the electrical appliances in your home and evaluating whether or not they're operating at maximum efficiency could be the game changer needed to take you to the next level.
If you can make some simple changes when it comes to your appliances, you can significantly reduce the amount of energy that's being used and therefore lower your electric bills. A simple walk-through of your home can result is less wasted energy and more financial savings.
So here are several things you can do to start saving electricity:
MAINTAIN OR REPLACE OLDER APPLIANCES
If you regularly clean and maintain your appliances, you can increase the likelihood that they'll work at maximum efficiency. For example, if your air conditioner has a dirty filter, it may not be cooling your room or home quickly enough. This means you'll run the appliance for a longer period of time, sucking up energy and money. Or maybe the door of your electric oven has become misaligned from years of use and an unnoticeable opening releases heat. This means you have to run the oven longer to cook your favorite dish.
Enlisting the help of a professional service technician to perform an annual checkup on some of your bigger appliances, like washers and dryers, can reduce the operating costs of those appliances significantly—sometimes up to 20%. This kind of professional maintenance can also extend the life of the appliance and ensure it remains safe, even after years of use.
If you have any appliances that have been in use for 10 years or more, they are likely not working at their peak rate of efficiency. Consider replacing them outright. This could cut your electric bill in half.
BUY ENERGY-SAVING APPLIANCES
Speaking of replacing your appliances, be on the lookout for the Energy Star logo.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been operating the Energy Star program for more than 20 years. Energy Star certification means the appliance is more energy-efficient (and therefore cost-saving) than a comparable model without the designation. The Energy Star label is currently used in more than 75 different product categories.
MAXIMIZING YOUR REFRIGERATOR
Two very simple things will help keep the cool air inside your refrigerator. The cooler your refrigerator stays, the less it'll need to draw energy to pump new cool air in.
First, don't keep the refrigerator or freezer door open for longer than you actually need. Second, try to avoid opening your refrigerator door all the way—open it just enough to get what you want.
MAXIMIZING YOUR AIR CONDITIONER
Instead of turning your air conditioner on and off manually whenever you think you need to, it's much better to establish what temperature is most comfortable for you and stick to it. That means choosing a temperature and permanently setting the thermostat at that level, so that the air conditioner can turn on and off on its own.
An air conditioner that kicks in as soon as the temperature rises too high only needs to cool the room or home by a few degrees, as a opposed to a human who might only get around to it when the air conditioner needs to cool the room by five, ten, or fifteen degrees. You can imagine how much more electricity is needed and how much more that costs.
UNPLUG YOUR APPLIANCES DURING A POWER OUTAGE
In the uncommon occurrence of a power outage, unplug all your appliances (like toasters and microwaves) and electric devices (like computers and televisions). Not only will this protect them from voltage surges when the electricity comes back on, this will decrease the demand on the electrical system of your power supplier. Voltage surges can cause permanent damage to your appliances and devices.
BONUS TIP: USE ENERGY-SAVING LIGHT BULBS
If you haven't already gotten rid of all your traditional incandescent light bulbs, now is the time to do so. While these types of bulbs emit the kind of warm glow that many people have gotten used to, they're the most inefficient, energy-draining bulbs on the market. An incandescent bulb yields approximately 700 to 1,000 hours of use.
Here are come alternatives:
Halogen bulbs are a type of incandescent. Known for mimicking natural daylight, they're at least 25% more efficient than a normal incandescent bulb. With an average lifespan of 1,000 hours, they're mostly used for under-cabinet and pendant lighting. One thing to note, however, is that halogens cost more upfront than regular incandescent—though this is made up in energy savings over time. They also burn at a higher temperature, so caution is necessary.
Fluorescent and compact fluorescent (CFL) light bulbs are a whopping 75% more efficient than standard incandescent bulbs. They come in a number of shapes, sizes, and colors, and they yield an average of 8,000 hours of use. They're perfect for the home (in rooms like the kitchen) and commercial environments.
LED light bulbs are hands down the greatest of them all. Not only are they at least 75% more efficient than incandescent, their average lifespan is more than 25,000 hours. They're great indoors and outdoors, for decorative lighting and task lighting—pretty much perfect for anything. They also emit practically no heat, making them the coolest (literally and figuratively) light bulb available.
THE BOTTOM LINE
As you move towards a more efficient lifestyle, whether your concern is protecting the environment or saving money or both, paying special attention to your appliances (and light bulbs) will go a long way in helping you achieve your goals.
While there are plenty of more things you can do to flex your eco-friendly muscles, the above suggestions are a great place to start.