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Kitchen - How to Save Energy

Energy-Efficient Kitchen Tips

Energy-Efficient Kitchen Appliances

Energy Efficient Kitchen Tips

Refrigerator/Freezer

The EnergyGuide label on new refrigerators will tell you how much electricity in kilowatt-hours (kWh) a particular model uses in one year. The smaller the number, the less energy the refrigerator uses and the less it will cost you to operate. In addition to the EnergyGuide label, don't forget to look for the ENERGY STAR label. A new refrigerator with an ENERGY STAR label uses at least 15% less energy than required by current federal standards and 40% less energy than the conventional models sold in 2001.

Refrigerator/Freezer Energy Tips

  • Look for a refrigerator with automatic moisture control. Models with this feature have been engineered to prevent moisture accumulation on the cabinet exterior without the addition of a heater. This is not the same thing as an "anti-sweat" heater. Models with an anti-sweat heater will consume 5% to 10% more energy than models without this feature.
  • Don't keep your refrigerator or freezer too cold. Recommended temperatures are 37° to 40°F for the fresh food compartment of the refrigerator and 5°F for the freezer section. If you have a separate freezer for long-term storage, it should be kept at 0°F.
  • To check refrigerator temperature, place an appliance thermometer in a glass of water in the center of the refrigerator. Read it after 24 hours. To check the freezer temperature, place a thermometer between frozen packages. Read it after 24 hours.
  • Regularly defrost manual-defrost refrigerators and freezers; frost buildup decreases the energy efficiency of the unit. Don't allow frost to build up more than one-quarter of an inch.
  • Make sure your refrigerator door seals are airtight. Test them by closing the door over a piece of paper or a dollar bill so it is half in and half out of the refrigerator. If you can pull the paper or bill out easily, the latch may need adjustment, the seal may need replacing, or you might consider buying a new unit.
  • Cover liquids and wrap foods stored in the refrigerator. Uncovered foods release moisture and make the compressor work harder.
  • $ Long-Term Savings Tip: Look for the ENERGY STAR when buying a new refrigerator. Select a new refrigerator that is the right size for your household. Top freezer models are more energy efficient than side-by-side models. Features like icemakers and water dispensers, while convenient, will increase energy use.

Other Energy-Saving Kitchen Tips

  • Be sure to place the faucet lever on the kitchen sink in the cold position when using small amounts of water; placing the lever in the hot position uses energy to heat the water even though it may never reach the faucet. If you need to purchase a natural gas oven or range, look for one with an automatic, electric ignition system. An electric ignition saves natural gas because a pilot light is not burning continuously.
  • In natural gas appliances, look for blue flames; yellow flames indicate the gas is burning inefficiently and an adjustment may be needed. Consult the manufacturer or your local utility.
  • Keep range-top burners and reflectors clean; they will reflect the heat better, and you will save energy.
  • Use a covered kettle or pan to boil water; it's faster and it uses less energy.
  • Match the size of the pan to the heating element.
  • Use small electric pans or toaster ovens for small meals rather than your large stove or oven. A toaster oven uses a third to half as much energy as a full-sized oven.
  • Use pressure cookers and microwave ovens whenever it is convenient to do so. They will save energy by significantly reducing cooking time.

Range/Oven

Most home ovens use 200-700 kiloWatt-hours per year. Here are few tips to become more energy efficient:

  • If you need to purchase a natural gas oven or range, look for one with an automatic, electric ignition system. An electric ignition saves natural gas because a pilot light is not burning continuously.
  • In natural gas appliances, look for blue flames; yellow flames indicate the gas is burning inefficiently and an adjustment may be needed. Consult the manufacturer or your local utility.
  • Keep range-top burners and reflectors clean; they will reflect the heat better, and you will save energy.
  • Use a covered kettle or pan to boil water; it’s faster and it uses less energy.
  • Match the size of the pan to the heating element.
  • Use small electric pans or toaster ovens for small meals rather than your large stove or oven. A toaster oven uses a third to half as much energy as a fullsized oven.
  • Use pressure cookers and microwave ovens whenever it is convenient to do so. They will save energy by significantly reducing cooking time.

Dishwasher

Most of the energy used by a dishwasher is for water heating. The EnergyGuide label estimates how much power is needed per year to run the appliance and to heat the water based on the yearly cost of natural gas and electric water heating.

Dishwasher Tips

  • Check the manual that came with your dishwasher for the manufacturer's recommendations on water temperature; many have internal heating elements that allow you to set the water heater in your home to a lower temperature (120°F).
  • Scrape, don't rinse, off large food pieces and bones. Soaking or pre-washing is generally only recommended in cases of burned-on or dried-on food.
  • Be sure your dishwasher is full, but not overloaded, when you run it.
  • Don't use the "rinse hold" on your machine for just a few soiled dishes. It uses 3 to 7 gallons of hot water each time you use it.
  • Let your dishes air dry; if you don't have an automatic air-dry switch, turn off the control knob after the final rinse and prop the door open a little so the dishes will dry faster.
  • $ Long-Term Savings Tip: When shopping for a new dishwasher, look for the ENERGY STAR label to find a dishwasher that uses less water and 25% less energy than required by federal standards.

Energy-Efficient Appliances for the Kitchen

Induction Cooking

  • Induction cooking is one of many advances made in home cooking. With induction cooking, surfaces stay cool while the food gets warm or hot. It uses magnetic friction to deliver heat through coils to the pots or pans on the surface. This prevents the ceramic surface from becoming hot, which prevents burns. The pots that are used must be made of magnetic materials, such as iron or steel, for the best results.

  • These units have very high efficiency ratings (in terms of the amount of heat used for actual cooking versus the total amount of heat delivered by the equipment), especially when compared to gas systems.

Light Energy Ovens

  • Many people use microwave ovens for a variety of cooking purposes, but they do not have the ability to grill or broil. Now, with light energy ovens, tungsten/ halogen lamps are positioned around the interior and computer-controlled "thermal-pulsing" selectively directs energy both into and onto the food. You get the size, convenience, and speed of a microwave oven, combined with the cooking ability of a regular oven or grill.

  • Larger versions of these ovens have been used in commercial restaurants and hotels. Starting in December 1998, models were available for residential applications.

Source: U.S. Dept. of Energy
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