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Do you have tips on energy efficiency in the kitchen?
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The average homeowner causes more air pollution from home energy use than from driving the family car. According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, if every household increased the energy efficiency of its major appliances by 10-30 percent, it would decrease demand by the equivalent of 25 large power plants.
Since the largest amount of home energy is used in the kitchen, it is wise to begin there to make changes that will reduce energy and save money. Consider these tips.
Lighting. Switch to compact fluorescent bulbs. They use 75 percent less electricity than incandescent bulbs and last up to10 times as long.
Insulation. Insulate plumbing pipes. If possible, add insulation to walls or ceiling space.
Windows. Make sure all windows are sealed tightly. If new windows are an option, consider high performance features such as double or triple panes and those with low-e coating.
Appliances. Kitchen appliances account for approximately 30 percent of total household energy use. Replacing old appliances with more efficient models can make an impact on overall energy consumption. If this is an option, determine what your family needs from the appliance, including size, style and features. Check the Energy Guide label. These are required by the FTC on most new appliances. Consider purchase price and potential energy savings. Some models are more expensive initially, but will make up the difference through energy savings in only a few years. Look for the EnergyStar logo — it means the EPA and U. S. Department of Energy determined the appliance was significantly more efficient than other models.
Refrigerators. Refrigerators can use between 8 and 18 percent of total household energy. If your refrigerator was purchased before 1993, it is likely using 30 percent more electricity than a new model, and 40 percent more than a new EnergyStar model. Models that are 16-20 cubic feet with the freezer on the bottom or top (rather than side-by-side) are the most efficient. Extra features such as ice makers and auto defrost make a model more expensive and less efficient. To make your existing model as efficient as possible: 1) Place refrigerator away from stove, dishwasher or other heat source. 2) Vacuum the coils on the back twice a year. 3) Check the tightness of the seals by closing the door on a dollar bill with half hanging out. If it pulls out without resistance, it may be time to replace the rubber seal. 4) Check refrigerator and freezer temperatures and adjust settings. 5) If your unit has an anti-sweat or moisture control switch, turn it on in the summer and off in the winter. 6) If you have a spare refrigerator for soda and such items, put it on a timer and program it to turn off for several hours each night.
Dishwashers. Many dishwashers on the market now have energy and water saving features. As with other kitchen appliances, read the energy label and look for the EnergyStar logo as a guide. These models use 575 kilowatt hours per year or less. Eighty to ninety percent of the energy consumed by dishwashers is used to heat the water. Therefore, reducing the amount of water used and heated is the best way to reduce energy consumed. A dishwasher more than 10 years old will likely use about 60 percent more energy than new EnergyStar models. To run your dishwasher most efficiently: 1) Run the dishwasher only when it is full. 2) Choose the shortest cycle and/or energy saving cycle, or turn off the heated drying. 3) Rinse dishes with cold water if pre-rinsing is required. 4) In the summer, run the dishwasher in the evening when it is cooler.
Ovens. Microwave ovens use about 50 percent less energy than conventional ovens, making them a more efficient way to cook. Self-cleaning, conventional ovens not only reduce elbow grease, they also reduce the energy consumed in cooking because they generally have tighter seals and better insulation. However, if you use the self-cleaning feature more than once a month, you'll end up using more energy than you saved.When you clean the oven, do it right after cooking to take advantage of residual heat. You can save energy in any oven by not peeking at food while it cooks. Each time you open the door, the temperature decreases by 25 F. For this reason, consider an oven with a window in the door. Convection ovens use fans to circulate hot air around food as it cooks. They cook more quickly and at lower temperatures. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates convection ovens are 23 percent more efficient than conventional ovens.
Ranges. Solid disk elements and radiant elements under glass stove tops are easier to clean than conventional electric coils, but they take longer to heat and use more electricity. Halogen elements and induction elements are more efficient. Stovetop reflectors that are kept clean reflect heat better and save energy. Gas stoves with an electric ignition use 30 to 40 percent less gas than those with a continuous pilot light. A blue flame indicates the unit is running efficiently. A yellow flame means ports need to be cleaned. With gas stoves, consider a quality ventilation system to remove any combustion fumes. With gas or electric stove tops, match the size of the pan to the heating element. More heat will get to the pan and less will be lost to the surrounding air. A 6-inch pan on an 8-inch burner will waste more than 40 percent of the energy.
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