“Going Green”, or leading a more environmentally friendly lifestyle to protect the environment and sustain natural resources, is a lifestyle many of us may enact on a regular basis–or we at least try our best to do so. Changing your lifestyle completely to do this, however, can be difficult. Many of us know the basics, like the importance of recycling, turning off our lights when we leave a room, and trying to reduce the amount of waste we create.
What you might not be familiar with is how to use your appliances in the most efficient way possible. Not only do these methods save electricity, water, or natural fuels, they can save you money as well. There are ways to change the way you use all of your main home appliances in order to be more “green”, and you can start doing them right away. With Earth Day less than two weeks away on April 22nd, this is the perfect time to make these small changes in honor of your planet.
Regardless of the type of range or oven you have, or whether you have a gas or electric stove-top, there are things that you can do for any type of model that can save you money and energy.
- Be smart when using your pots and pans. When cooking on the stove, make sure you are using a properly sized pot for the burner the pot is on. For example, if you use a 6-inch pot on an 8-inch burner, you will waste over 40 percent of the burner’s heat! This is such an easy thing to pay attention to that will help you save energy without making any major appliance alterations.
- If you like it, put a lid on it. Make sure all of your pots and pans have a tight fitting lid. Keeping a lid on them while you’re cooking keeps the heat inside and cooks your food faster. Not to mention, this also helps to boil water much quicker.
- Use your oven/range for large or multiple dishes. Ovens are inefficient — only about 6 percent of the energy from a typical oven is absorbed by the food. Use a microwave for smaller dishes if possible.
- Use your oven light. Do not open your oven door to check on your food! You will lose valuable heat whenever you open the door, increasing your overall cooking time.
As you can probably imagine, your washer and dryer use up a lot of energy in your home. It is not possible to eliminate washing your clothes completely from your life obviously, but there are still ways to save, especially when it comes to drying your clothes.
- Cut back on the dryer. Not all clothes should be put in the dryer anyway because some fabrics will shrink or get ruined in the dryer. You can hang up most (or all) of your clothes on a line outside or inside. Your dryer uses the second highest amount energy in your home out of all your appliances (your fridge is first), so even if you eliminate dryer usage part of the time, you’ll save money and cut down on a large amount of energy.
- Use concentrated laundry detergents. These detergents reduce the amount of waste because they have reduced packaging and also a smaller carbon footprint. These allow you to use less detergent, but make sure you read the labels to make sure you are using the correct type of detergent for your machine and the right amount per load.
- Clean your dryer’s lint filter. Cleaning this filter frequently is important; not only will it increase efficiency and shorten drying time, it prevents fire hazards. Not having to use the dryer more than once for the same load will cut back heavily on energy usage.
Between the amount of water used in each cycle, and the energy used to heat the water during the cycle, dishwasher’s can be quite the energy guzzler in your home. Keep reading to learn how to use them most efficiently.
- Only run when there is a full load. It is a waste of water and energy running a cycle when the dishwasher is only half full. Make use of all of the room inside your dishwasher and fill it completely before running it.
- Scrape your plates, don’t rinse them. Before putting your dishes in the dishwasher, only scrape the food off. Don’t bother rinsing them, the dishwasher can handle that. When you hand rinse each dish before putting them in the dishwasher, you use many gallons of water to do something the dishwasher will do again anyway. You can even use a rinse setting on your dishwasher if you know your dishes will be sitting overnight, which still uses less water than hand rinsing.
Your refrigerator uses the most energy out of all the appliances in your home because it is constantly running. Unfortunately there is not much we can do to cut back on energy because turning off your refrigerator will cause your food inside to go bad. You can make a few smart changes however.
- Keep away from heat. Heat sources, such as your stove or oven, will have an effect on your refrigerator and cause it to work harder in order to maintain the cool temperature. Make sure you do not set up your kitchen with the refrigerator near the oven or stove.
- Let foods cool first, before you put them inside the refrigerator. This is to make sure hot foods do not alter the refrigerator temperature and make it work less efficiently.
Your microwave is more efficient for cooking smaller plates than your oven is, so using this appliance instead of your oven or range whenever possible is important.
- When cooking small portions or defrosting, use your microwave. It is much more efficient than your oven/range.
- Place food at the outer edges of the rotating tray in your microwave for faster, more efficient cooking. This will cut back on energy usage because you won’t need to cook your food in the microwave for as long.
For all of your appliances in your home, this is the cardinal rule: WHEN NOT IN USE, TURN IT OFF.
The same way we turn off the lights or TV when we are not using them, we can unplug and turn off our appliances when we are not using them as well. This is important to remember when we are out of town and will not be using anything at all in your home for an extended period of time.
Hopefully these tips will help you lead a more energy efficient lifestyle, plus your wallet, and the planet, will thank you for doing so!
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Written By: Marissa Watroba