Snohomish County Public Utility District No. 1

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Residential Energy Savers: Appliances Tips

Appliances are major consumers of electricity in your home. The way you maintain and use them can have a big impact on your energy usage.

When buying a new appliance, remember that it has two price tags: what you pay to take it home and what you pay for the energy and/or water it uses. Efficient appliances incorporate advanced technologies that use 10–50% less energy and/or water than standard models. The money you save on your utility bills can more than make up for the cost of a more expensive but more efficient model.

Explore the tips below for free and low-cost ideas for getting the best efficiency from your current appliances, as well as smart investments that you can make in the future.

No-Cost Tips

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Turn in your second refrigerator

Older refrigerators and freezers can use up to three times as much electricity as newer ENERGY STAR models. Even worse than the energy they waste is the damage they do to the environment when they end up in landfills.

Savings: depends on the original model, up to $200 per year

Cost: Varies

Give your range or oven the day off

Small appliances such as your microwave, toaster oven and slow cooker use 50 to 80% less power than your oven or range to cook the same meal. Using them to cook your meals not only saves you energy, it will also help keep your home cooler in the summer.

Savings: up to 58 kWh* per bill, about $33 per year

Cost: FREE if you already have the appliance

Use less energy for cooking

There are a variety of things you can do to reduce the amount of energy required to cook meals on your range or in your oven. Here are a few ideas:

  • Use flat-bottom pans for best contact with the heat, with tight-fitting lids to keep the steam in the pan.
  • Match the pan size to the element size, putting small pans on small elements and large on large.
  • Use smaller amounts of water for cooking and use the lowest possible heat to maintain boiling or steaming.
  • Pressure cookers use much less energy than ordinary pots and pans.
  • Preheat oven only 5 to 8 minutes when baking; do not preheat oven for broiling or roasting.
  • Use the self-cleaning feature on your oven only when absolutely needed.

Savings: varies

Cost: FREE

Wash your dishes for less

By running the dishwasher only when it’s full you’ll save water and the energy needed to heat the water (about 80% of that used to wash a load of dishes). Skip the pre-rinse, not required by most newer dishwashers, and use the energy saving cycle settings such as air dry to save even more.

Savings: up to 20 kWh* per bill, about $11 per year

Cost: FREE

* For the average SnohomishCounty household with an electric water heater.

Wash your laundry in less water

If your clothes washer has a water level-selector, use the lowest practical level for each load of clothes.

Savings: varies

Cost: varies

Wash your laundry in cold water

By washing your clothes in cold water instead of hot you'll save almost 90% of the energy needed to run a normal load of laundry and your clothes will come out just as clean.

Savings: up to 100 kWh* per bill, about $57 per year

Cost: FREE

* For the average household with an electric water heater running 8 loads of laundry per week.

Help your dryer breathe

Your dryer is a significant energy user in your home, so helping it run efficiently is an easy way to reduce your electricity use. To keep your dryer working well clean the lint screen in your dryer before every load and check and clean the dryer venting system at least once a year.

Savings: varies

Cost: FREE

Keep your fridge and freezer running cold

Your fridge and/or freezer are the only appliances that are on full-time, keeping them in tip-top shape is important. Here are a few ways you can be sure that they’re operating as efficiently as possible:

  • Keep your refrigerator temperature at 38 degrees.
  • Freezer temperature should be maintained at zero degrees.
  • Defrost your freezer when ice or frost build-up is 1/4" or thicker.
  • Vacuum or brush the cooling coils (in back) at least every six months.

Savings: varies

Cost: FREE

Low-Cost Tips

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Hang your laundry to dry

Your dryer is a significant energy user in your home, why not take advantage of the sun’s warmth instead. By hanging just half your laundry on a clotheslines this summer you’ll not only save a lot  energy, your clothes will last longer and smell better too.

You can still hang dry your laundry inside during the winter by using a drying rack or indoor clothes line.

Savings: up to 105 kWh* per bill, about $60 per year

Cost: $10 - $50 for a basic clothesline

* Assumes 4 loads of laundry per week hung to dry instead of put in the dryer.

Check your refrigerator and freezer door seals

The seals around refrigerator and freezer doors dry out and stop sealing well over time, allowing cooled air to escape and wasting energy. Check to be sure your seals are still good by closing the door on a $1 dollar bill and slowly pulling it out - no resistance means that cold air is escaping even when the door is shut and you should replace the seal or adjust the door, if possible.

Savings: up to 25 kWh per bill, about $14 per year

Cost: Approximately $50 depending on model

Smart Investment Tips

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Choose an ENERGY STAR refrigerator

When you need a new refrigerator, be sure to choose an ENERGY STAR model. ENERGY STAR qualified refrigerator models use at least 20% less energy than required by current federal standards and 40% less energy than the conventional models sold in 2001. For even greater efficiency, choose a refrigerator with the freezer compartment below or above the fridge rather than a side-by-side model.

Savings: up to 50 kWh* per bill, about $29 per year

EPA estimates that replacing a 1980's fridge saves about $140 per year; replacing a 1970's fridge saves about $200 per year!

Cost: varies

* When compared to non-ENERGY-STAR-qualified models.

Choose an efficient freezer

If you’re purchasing a stand alone freezer, choose a chest style model. They’re about 25% more efficient that upright models, plus ENERGY STAR qualified models are 10% more efficient than standard models.

Savings: varies

Cost: varies

Buy an ENERGY STAR dishwasher

Is your dishwasher more than 10 years old? Replacing it with an ENERGY STAR model will save you energy and water since Energy Star rated models use at least 41 percent less energy than the federal minimum standard for energy consumption and a third less water.

Savings: Up to 16 kWh per bill, about $9 per year.

Cost: varies

* When compared to non-ENERGY-STAR-qualified models.

Buy an efficient clothes washer

Replacing a washer that’s more than 10 years old with a new efficient clothes washer will save you energy, water and drying time. Efficient clothes washers not only use less energy, they also use 18 gallons less water to run each load. Less water means a lower water bill and more water for salmon and the environment.

Savings: Up to 42 kWh per bill, about $24 per year.

Get a PUD mail-in rebate when you purchase an eligible efficient clothes washer. Get the details.

Cost: varies

* When compared to non-ENERGY-STAR-qualified models.