We are continuing our series on making your home more efficient and comfortable. Last time we went through items in the Mechanical Room. We finish up the series by looking at the other areas of the home. While the first three areas (Kitchen, Bathroom and Mechanical Room) might have the “big ticket” items that can make a significant impact, there are other areas of the home we don’t want to forget. Here are a few:
1. Clothes Washers: As we have mentioned with other larger items like furnaces or water heaters, it would be great if everyone went out and replaced their unit with an ENERGY STAR® certified one. We know that is not a practical solution but there are ways to increase the efficiency of your current one:
a. Fill it Up – Clothes washers use about the same amount of energy regardless of the load, so run full loads whenever possible.
b. Wash in Cold Water – Water heating consumes about 90% of the energy it takes to operate a washer. Unless you are dealing with oily stains, washing in cold water will generally get the job done. Even switching from Hot to warm will cut energy usage in half.
c. Avoid the sanitary cycle – Unless it is absolutely necessary, avoid using the super hot cycle as it increases the energy usage significantly.
d. Activate the high spin speed option – If your current washer has a high-speed spin cycle, use it. This will remove more moisture from the clothes, reducing the drying time.
e. If it is time to replace your washer, look for an energy efficient model. Considering how often you use your washer, spending a little more up front could have a large impact on your energy bills of the long run.
2. Clothes Dryer: As with the washer, it would be great if everyone replaced their dryer with a high-efficiency one but again that might not be practical. Here are some things you can do:
a. Sensor Drying – If your dryer has a sensor mode, use that instead of timed drying. If set properly, this will ensure that the dryer is not running longer than it needs to.
b. Low Heat Setting – Longer drying cycles on a low heat setting will actually use less energy than a short, higher heat cycle.
c. Clean the lint filter – The lint filter should be cleaned after every load to improve the air circulation as well as the safety of using the dryer. You should also regularly check the dryer outlet where it is exhausting to the outdoors to make sure lint has not built up there. This will decrease the airflow and cause the dryer to take longer to dry the clothes.
3. Lighting: What type of bulbs do you have installed around your home? Switching to ENERGY STAR certified LEDs could save up to 90% in energy costs. When choosing a LED make sure you choose one that fits your lighting needs. For instance, you might want to choose one that is closer to natural light rather than a warm light, especially if you will be doing things like applying make-up.
4. Audio Video: When it comes to our TV’s, DVD players, computers and so forth, we can think that their energy usage is insignificant compared to everything else. These items can account for around 12% of the total amount of energy used in the home. Switching to ENERGY STAR labeled models can save up to 70%. Here are a couple of other tips:
a. Turn it off – When not in use, turn it off. Sounds simple, but think of how many times you leave the TV on when no one is in the room or your computer is on when not in use. Energy Saving modes are great and should definitely be used, but to save even more energy, turn them off.
b. Unplug – Almost all electronics are using energy when they are plugged in regardless if they are actively running or not. Unplugging them when not in use cuts that standby energy use off. Yes, it is sometimes not practical to always unplug everything, especially the cable box where it needs to reboot once it is plugged back in but it is something to consider if you will be away for any length of time.