Energy Savings in the Kitchen

Start Cooking up a Lower Electricity Bill

Whether it’s preparing meals or chatting with friends and family as you cook, you probably spend lots of time in your kitchen. With all the appliances in use, you’re using more energy in this room than you realize. But with a little planning, you can take the heat out of the kitchen.

Refrigerators and Freezers

These two appliances are among the top energy users in your home. If you’re going to replace one older appliance, think about getting a new energy-saving refrigerator. If your refrigerator was made before 1987, it costs you around $190 per year to run it! Upgrading to an energy-efficient fridge with the ENERGY STAR® label could cut your refrigerator energy usage by as much as 70% and save you close to $133 every year.

Stuff Your Mama Told You

  • Keep the doors closed whenever possible.
  • Remove and return as much food at one time as possible.
  • Leave space for air circulation between items.
  • Let hot foods cool before placing them in the refrigerator or freezer.
  • Thaw frozen foods in the refrigerator instead of on the counter; this helps cool the refrigerator.
  • Keeping your freezer two-thirds to three-fourths full helps it operate more efficiently. You can use frozen bottles of water to help fill the empty space (don’t fill the bottles to the top, though).

Put It in the Right Place

  • The location of your refrigerator and freezer can make a big difference in the running time and energy usage.
  • Place them out of direct sunlight in an air-conditioned area (instead of in the garage) and keep them away from an outside door or other appliances that heat (such as a stove or dishwasher).
  • Doing so reduces the amount of time the unit runs to keep food cold.

Set the Right Temperature

  • Your refrigerator temperature should be at or below 40° F (4° C), while the freezer temperature at 0° F (-18° C).
  • If you’re not sure, simply follow the manufacturer’s guide for the most energy-efficient settings.
  • Also, check the rubber gasket that creates the seal around the door. If it doesn’t seal completely, that means cold air is escaping and the motor is working harder.

Keep It Clean

Don’t allow frost to exceed a quarter-inch in a refrigerator with manual defrost. You should also clean the condenser coils in the back of the refrigerator at least twice a year. To do this, follow these four simple steps:

  • Pull the refrigerator away from the wall and unplug it.
  • Remove the cover panel to reveal the coils. On most models you can simply flip up the panel (refer to your owner’s manual for detailed instructions).
  • Use your narrowest vacuum-cleaner nozzle to clean the condenser coils. A refrigerator coil brush is great for removing dust and debris.
  • Replace the cover, move the refrigerator back into place and plug it in.

Dishwasher

If you’re replacing a dishwasher, ENERGY STAR qualified dishwashers can save more than $25 a year in electricity costs compared with standard models.

  • Washing a load of dishes in the dishwasher uses about 10 gallons of water. Washing the same amount of dishes by hand uses an average of 16 gallons. By using the dishwasher, you’re not only saving water, you’re also saving the money it costs to heat those extra six gallons.
  • Rinsing dirty dishes before you load your dishwasher means you’re basically washing your dishes twice. Scraping food instead of rinsing should be sufficient for most dishwashers.
  • Your dishwasher uses the same amount of water and electricity regardless of how many dishes are loaded. Always run a full load and the shortest cycle necessary to get them clean.
  • Running your dishwasher generates heat, so running it at night during the summer and day during the winter can help with cooling and heating costs.
  • Cancel the drying cycle and allow the dishes to air dry. Depending on your model, this can save between 15-50% of the total energy your dishwasher uses.

Stove and Oven

  • When you’re using your regular oven, open the door only when necessary. The heat from an open oven door reduces the cooking temperature and heats up your home, making your air conditioner work harder.
  • During the winter, leave the oven door open once you’ve turned the oven off to cool faster and save energy.
  • If your oven has a glass door and internal light, check your food without opening the door when possible.

Keep the Heat Where it Belongs

  • If your kitchen has internal doors separating it from the rest of the house, keep them closed when you’re cooking in the summer. This keeps the kitchen from heating up the rest of your home, which makes your air conditioner work harder.
  • In the winter, leave the kitchen doors open to allow the heat from your stove or oven to help heat the rest of your home.
  • Use the stove exhaust fan to help draw the excess heat out of the kitchen.
  • If your kitchen has windows, open them to let the hot air out. This works best when the kitchen door is closed and you’re running a ceiling fan.

Faucets

A single leak can waste gallons of water. And if the hot water leaks, you’re not only wasting water, you’re also wasting the energy it took to heat it.

Lighting

Replace your incandescent bulbs (the kind we’ve all used for decades) with compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs or light emitting diode (LED) bulbs. LED bulbs with the ENERGY STAR label can last up to 25 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs, which means you could save up to $75 on your energy bills each year.

  • According to EnergyStar.gov, “CFLs use about 70% less energy than incandescent bulbs.”
  • According to EnergyStar.gov, “Residential LEDs — especially ENERGY STAR rated products — use at least 75% less energy, and last 25 times longer, than incandescent lighting.”

Get the heat out of the kitchen with these energy savings tips!

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