Saving Energy Costs Doesn’t Have to Be Expensive! Part 2

Last month, we covered the basics of energy savings in the areas of air conditioning and heating systems, lighting, and structure integrity for your home. We conclude this month with appliances.

With all the appliances – major and small – that we use in our homes today, we have to look at what energy saving ideas affect them. Anytime you need to replace any type of appliance, including something such as a programmable thermostat, ensure the appliance carries the Energy Star® symbol. This guarantees that you will use approximately 10 percent less energy than with conventional models – and they cost about the same to purchase. Here are some other energy-saving ideas for appliances:08152011-2

Refrigerators & Freezers

  1. Reorganize the food in both the refrigerator and freezer sections to allow the air to flow freely. The unit will be more effective and work half as hard.
  2. Do not over pack, especially the freezer. Your appliance will work more efficiently. And don’t block the air vents, or your food may transit between thawing out and being frozen as you add and remove food.
  3. Always cool hot food before placing into the freezer or refrigerator.
  4. Do not place a unit near any heat source, such as a duct vent, a dishwasher or stove. The unit will have to use more energy, having to work harder to keep its contents cold or frozen.
  5. Stand-Alone Freezers – Purchase the size for your needs. Space not used wastes energy. A rule of thumb is to have 4.6 cubic feet per person in the household. Also, a chest freezer uses less energy to run than the uprights.
  6. Refrigerator thermostats usually can be set at 37 degrees and freezers at three degrees for optimum energy use and good performance. If there is an energy-saving switch, ensure it is turned on.

Hot Water Heaters

Whether gas or electric, they cost a lot to run. You can purchase an insulating jacket for the unit for about $20, which will keep the heat in the unit rather than losing it in the surrounding atmosphere. This also keeps the use of your AC down in the summer. Hot water heaters are set on the high side; so, reset yours to 120 degrees Fahrenheit, which is usually fine for most households. Each degree higher costs that much more each month.


Only run your dishwasher when you have a full load. If you have one, use the energy setting and consider manually turning off the drying cycle. You can save 20 percent of energy otherwise used by allowing the dishes to air dry.


  1. Because of the heat generated in a self-cleaning oven, these stoves usually have more insulation than ovens that are not self cleaning. They do a better job at keeping the heat in the oven when used.
  2. When you wish to check your baking progress, use the inside light instead of opening the door whenever possible – that means keeping the glass window clean, as well.
  3. When cooking on the range, select the appropriate size element for the pot or pan you 08152011-4are using; and do not use an over-sized pot or pan when a smaller one will do.
  4. Get more use from your barbecue during hot weather. Not only will everyone enjoy the outdoor activity, but you also will use less gas or electric from the stove and keep the heat outdoors, saving on AC costs, as well. It uses less energy to use a microwave, confection or toaster oven or electric fry pan than to use your stove’s oven or range. You are heating a much smaller area for (in most cases) a lot less time, and they add very little (if any) heat to the kitchen. For even more efficiency, ensure there is sufficient airflow around each unit.


Clothes Washers & Dryers

  1. 08152011-7 (1)Front loading washers use about 40 percent less water than top loading units, as well as 50 percent less energy.
  2. Use the appropriate water control level for the load you are washing to save water. Try to wash only full loads to save on energy. Remember, if you are washing, you probably also are drying – so load size and energy use affects both the washer and dryer.
  3. Use only warm or cold water in your washer. You will save a lot in monthly energy costs from both your washer and the hot water heater. Today’s laundry detergents generally work well with warm and cold water.
  4. Clean the lent from the dryer, as well as the lent under the dryer and in its exhaust. It will not have to work as hard and eliminates possible fire hazards. Special vacuum attachments for this are very inexpensive.
  5. Bathroom & Kitchen Exhaust Fans – For the kitchen, use the exhaust fan to keep odors, as well as heat, from the room while cooking. Turn it off as soon as you are done. For the bathroom, consider installing an exhaust with a sensor that automatically turns it off when the humidity has been removed from the room.
  6. For many small appliances and outdoor security and safety units, you can use a photocell (outdoors) or electrical timer (indoors) to automatically turn these items on and off. Your coffee pot does not need to be plugged in while you sleep nor does the microwave, yet they 08152011-6 (1)keep running just to show you the digital time. Purchase an inexpensive wall clock for the kitchen instead. Also, consider turning off surge protectors or unplugging them at night after shutting down your computer equipment. This also can be done for television sets, which will take longer to start when unplugged but will also use much less energy. Catalog all of your small appliances to determine what can be put on timers or surge protector units for switching off when not in use. You will not believe how much energy you will save each year. Remember, some of these appliances together give off a lot of heat, as well, especially computer equipment.

Implementing even some of these ideas can save a bundle in energy costs each year. You also will be saving our planet from a lot of excess CO2 emissions that are said to harm the Earth’s ozone layer. Many of the appliances discussed here also dissipate CO2 during their use. For example, if every home and building owner turned the hot water heater thermostat down by just 20 degrees, we would eliminate an additional 45 million tons of annual CO2 emissions from entering the atmosphere. It is not only vehicles and industry that cause ozone layer problems!

Enjoy your home in comfort while energy efficient; and
call South Florida Home Inspection Associates
for all your home inspection needs!

Sydney Smidt
South Florida Home Inspection Associates
P.O. Box 1716
Hobe Sound, Fl 33475


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