Affordable Sustainability - How to Use Appliances Efficiently

Did you know that appliances account for approximately 13% of your home’s energy use? Your larger kitchen appliances, combined with your smaller entertainment machines, means your home can have upward of 10 appliances running at any given moment. The good news is, you don’t have to completely pull the plug to save on your energy costs. Here’s how to use your appliances more efficiently to reduce your energy use and do one for the environment.

Choose energy-efficient appliances

When purchasing new appliances, choose models with high energy efficiency ratings. Look for the ENERGY STAR label, which indicates that the appliance meets strict energy efficiency standards. Energy-efficient appliances consume less electricity while providing the same functionality as standard models. The initial cost may be higher, but the money you save in the long run will make it an investment that ultimately pays for itself. 

Follow the user manuals

User manuals provide valuable information about the optimal usage and maintenance of appliances. Take the time to read the manuals thoroughly, as they offer specific instructions on how to maximize efficiency and extend the lifespan of each appliance. Familiarize yourself with recommended settings, maintenance procedures and safety guidelines to ensure you’re using the appliances as efficiently as possible.

Use appliances smartly

Take full advantage of any automatic settings on your appliances to use them more efficiently. For example, you can set your HVAC system to adjust its temperature when no one’s home or everyone in the household is asleep. Many newer appliances come with Wi-Fi connectivity, which further increases the controllability of the appliance. It’s a lot easier to swipe a phone screen to shut off the light you mistakenly left burning in the basement than to actually haul yourself out of bed and downstairs to turn it off. 

Saving on energy around the house

Follow these tips to use appliances more efficiently around the house:

  • Choose “sleep” over “screen save” to use less energy when away from your computer.
  • Set up your computer to go into standby mode after 10 or 15 minutes of non-use and to hibernate, or sleep, after a bit longer. This will significantly decrease your computer’s energy use.
  • Trim down and downsize. Consider switching from a desktop PC to a laptop, as these use 10% of the electricity.
  • Turn off your monitor when it’s not in use.
  • Think three times before you print. Use print preview to reduce the number of copies you need to run. 
  • Match up your pots to your burner size. Using a small pot on a large burner is a waste of energy and adds extra heat to your kitchen. 
  • Keep the oven door closed. The oven loses up to 50°F each time you open the door.
  • Choose the right-shaped pans. Pans with straight sides and flat bottoms reduce cooking time and heat loss. 
  • Cook with aluminum pans for even heat conduction.
  • Keep range-top burners clean for better reflection of heat and saved energy.
  • Keep your thermostats at the recommended settings: 37°F for refrigerators and -6°F for freezers.
  • Position your refrigerator away from a heat source to reduce energy use. 
  • For optimal performance that uses less energy, keep your freezer full and wrap all foods well. Avoid putting hot foods directly into your refrigerator or freezer.
  • Clean the condenser coils of refrigerators and freezers regularly to improve cooling efficiency.
  • Only run full loads.
  • Avoid pre-rinsing dirty dishes unless absolutely necessary. 
  • During warmer times of the year, run the dishwasher in the early morning or evenings, when it’s cooler out, for decreased energy usage. 
  • Wash with cold water as much as possible. Approximately 90% of the energy used by washing machines goes toward heating the water. 
  • Keep the lint filter clean for quicker dry times. 
  • Make sure your dryer is vented properly. 
Air conditioner
  • Cook less when it’s hot out. Consider using smaller appliances instead of your oven to keep the house cool, or take it outdoors and grill your dinner. 
  • Plant bushes or small trees outside your home near windows that let in lots of sunshine.
  • Set your thermostat to adjust automatically. 
  • Clean or replace your filters regularly to maintain proper airflow. 

Our household appliances keep our food cold, cook and bake our meals, allow us to get work done, clean our clothes, keep us cool and so much more. Use these tips to use your appliances more efficiently and save on energy usage and total costs. 

Learn More
Home Appliance Tips - Duke Energy
3 Ways to Improve Energy Efficiency at Home - Direct Energy