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Energy Saving Tips for Your Appliances

Major appliances use about 13 percent of the electricity load in a home. Finding practical and actionable ways to reduce that pull does more than lower your utility bills each month, however. Electricity is a key player in the escalating environmental problems. You can save money and do your part for the environment by giving your home an energy evaluation. Appliances are a good place to start.

  • Locate your refrigerator in a cool location (away from direct sunlight and other heat generating appliances) to make it easier for it to maintain temperature.
  • Monitor refrigerator temperature and keep air cold inside by keeping the doors closed as much as possible and ensuring door seals are working properly.
  • Let hot foods cool before placing them in the refrigerator.
  • Be sure to leave room for air to circulate when you load your refrigerator.
  • Clean condenser coils regularly and commit to regular service and maintenance to identify potential energy (and food) wasting problems before they occur.
  • Use only manufacturer recommended replacement parts, which help your refrigerator work more efficiently.
  • Scraping instead of rinsing dishes saves over 55,000 gallons of water over the life of your appliance.
  • Run your dishwasher only when it is full to get the most bang for your energy buck.
  • Use the air-dry option or open the door to allow dishes to dry following the rinse cycle. On hot days, run your dishwasher at night to prevent daytime heat buildup in your kitchen.
  • Wash during off-peak hours. Local utilities recommend avoiding heavy energy use at specific times of the day.
  • Dry full loads whenever possible.
  • Dry towels and heavier items separate from lighter weight items.
  • Don’t over-dry clothes. Use the moisture sensor if your machine has one.
  • Clean the lint screen with each load for efficient operation and to prevent fires.
  • Periodically vacuum the lint screen slot on your clothes dryer using the long nozzle tip of your vacuum cleaner.
  • Scrub the lint filter once a month using a toothbrush if you use dryer sheets, as they can leave a film that reduces airflow and affect performance.
  • Allow items to finish drying with the heat remaining in the dryer using the cool down cycle.
  • Have your dryer vents professionally cleaned and inspected annually to ensure the efficient operation of your dryer and prevent fires. Only 25 percent of lint is actually captured by the lint trap.

NOTE: Because all dryer models use approximately the same amount of energy, they are not rated by the U.S. Department of Energy or included in ENERGY STAR ratings.

  • Place your ice machine in a cool location, 90 degrees F or less, so it won’t have to work as hard and consume excess energy.
  • Shift production to off-peak hours when energy rates are lower.
  • Regular cleaning of mineral deposits and water filtration are not only necessary to high quality ice, but they also keep your machine operating efficiently. Be certain to follow manufacturer maintenance recommendations on cleaning and filter maintenance for the most efficient use of your commercial ice maker.
  • If possible, choose an air-cooled model to save on extremely high water bills.
  • Opt for an ENERGY STAR model, which is 15 percent more energy efficient and 10 percent more water efficient than standard models.
  • Minimize the amount of time doors and lids are left open, closing the lid when not in use to keep cold air in.
  • Change water filters regularly.
  • Regularly remove mineral deposits to prevent water flow restrictions.
  • Ensure the seal on your ice machine or refrigerator is in proper working order.
  • Place ice machines in a cool location, away from heat producing appliances such as ovens and dryers, so they don’t have to work as hard to maintain temperature.
  • Clean your ice machine regularly according to manufacturer recommendations to ensure equipment is working properly and efficiently.
  • Eliminate potential energy wasting issues by identifying them early through regular service and maintenance.
  • Replace parts with manufacturer recommended replacements. This reduces energy waste, as these parts are made specifically to work with your ice maker.
  • Unplug your microwave when it’s not in use.
  • Use microwave ovens whenever possible for cooking, as their shorter cooking times save energy.
  • Arrange food properly to shorten cooking time. Don’t pile up food. Place thicker foods closer to the edge and thinner foods toward the center.
  • Use the minimum cooking time and check to see if food is done to save energy and prevent food from overcooking.
  • Wash full loads when possible, using the appropriate amount of water for the size of the load when loads are smaller.
  • Utilize cold water whenever possible. Switching from hot to warm water can cut energy usage by half.
  • Purchase an appropriately sized bar cooler for your refrigeration needs.
  • Locate commercial bar coolers in cool areas, away from heat generating appliances or sunny locations where they will have to work harder to maintain temperature.
  • Keep the doors of commercial bar coolers shut when not in use.
  • Monitor the temperatures inside commercial bar coolers to ensure coolers are operating properly and are not in need of service and wasting energy.
  • Follow manufacturer recommended maintenance routines, including inspecting door gaskets for dirt, damage and leaks, cleaning evaporator coils and making sure vents are clear of debris.
  • Select only high quality, efficient replacement parts.
  • Routinely monitor temperature and thermostat settings to assure efficient operation and the safe storage of food.
  • Keep the door closed when the walk-in is not in use.
  • Ensure doors close properly, replacing worn gaskets when necessary.
  • Install strip curtains as insurance against open doors. They are a low cost energy efficiency measure and offer a one-year payback.
  • Be certain to follow manufacturer recommended routine maintenance to ensure your walk-in is operating properly and efficiently, protecting your food investment. Routinely have the refrigerant charge checked, the evaporator and condenser coils cleaned and more.
  • Purchase high quality, properly sized, energy efficient replacement parts when repair needs arise.
  • ENERGY STAR does not regulate commercial walk-ins at this time. However, as walk-ins are one of the largest energy consumers in the building, it is imperative to consider efficiency when selecting a commercial walk-in cooler for your business to keep utility costs under control.
  • Locate freezers in cool locations, away from heat producing appliances and other heat sources, so they don’t have to work harder to maintain temperature.
  • Keep cold air in by minimizing the amount of time doors are left open and ensuring seals are working properly.
  • Monitor freezer temperature, which should be kept at zero degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Defrost regularly or when frost reaches levels of more than one quarter of an inch.
  • Let hot foods cool before placing them in the freezer.
  • Keep your freezer full. Full freezers maintain temperature much better than those that are nearly empty.
  • Identify potential energy (and food) wasting issues early with regular service and maintenance.
  • Use only manufacturer recommended replacement parts, which work more efficiently with your freezer.
  • Store commercial freezers away from other heat generating appliances in your kitchen, and away from locations that get too hot.
  • Don’t prop your freezer door open. Close the door when it’s not in use.
  • Wait for foods to cool down before putting them in your commercial freezer. This prevents it from working harder to maintain temperature. If you need to cool hot food quickly, use a blast chiller.
  • Make sure the temperature is set to the correct level (-10 to 0 degrees F) to prevent spoilage or forcing the compressor to run longer than necessary due to excessively cold settings.
  • Establish a regular maintenance plan to keep commercial freezers running efficiently. Clean the evaporator, coils and fins regularly inspect door seals and check for vent blockages regularly.
  • If your condenser or motor fails, be sure to invest in a high-efficiency motor for big energy savings down the road.
  • When selecting a commercial freezer, choose the best size to fit your needs, opting for models with electronic controls and magnetic seals for optimum savings.
  • Keep burners clean for efficient operation.
  • Cover pans to prevent heat loss.
  • Turn off the oven or burners a few minutes early and let accumulated heat continue to cook foods.
  • Use the right size burner.
  • Use the least amount of heat necessary to cook food adequately.
  • Don’t use excessive amounts of water when boiling – the more you use the more energy it will take to bring it to a boil.
  • Use ceramic bake ware. Baking in ceramic allows you to reduce oven temperatures as much as 25 degrees.
  • Keep the oven door closed. Peaking drops the temperature by 50 degrees.

NOTE: New ovens and stovetops are not rated by ENERGY STAR at this time because there are no federal energy regulation for these appliances. Be sure to carefully compare energy usage when selecting a new model.

  • Look for ENERGY STAR qualified commercial pizza tables for significant energy savings over the lifetime of the appliance. These models are far more efficient than older units which use outdated refrigerants and technology. Pay a little more up front for bigger savings in the long run.
  • Heat sources can compromise open ingredient areas. Avoid possible bacteria growth and food borne illness by locating your commercial pizza tables away from heat sources such as sunlight and ovens to ensure efficient operation.
  • Blocking vents near the condenser impedes air flow. Keep this area clear for optimal temperatures and efficiency.
  • Periodically check pans for poor seals due to dents and damage that could allow cold air to escape and force your unit to work harder.
  • Locate commercial sandwich units away from heat sources, such as sunlight and ovens, to help them run as efficiently as possible. Be aware heat sources can also compromise open ingredient areas, resulting in bacterial growth.
  • Don’t block vents near the condenser; this impedes air flow.
  • Prevent cold air from escaping and your unit from working harder due to poor seals from dented or damaged pans.
  • Open doors as infrequently as possible, and close them quickly.
  • Don’t store ingredients at temperatures lower than necessary. Keeping items in the base at 40 degrees and ingredients in the top at 41 degrees Fahrenheit should be sufficient for most items.
  • Opt for ENERGY STAR labeled products, which are up to 50 percent more energy efficient than standard models. ENERGY STAR models have shorter cooking times, higher production rates, less heat loss, and more efficient steam delivery, saving up to 90 percent of water used compared to standard models. What’s more, these efficient products may qualify your business for rebates and tax incentives.
  • Setup a schedule based on daily lulls in business, such as noon to dinnertime, keeping steam tables covered when not serving to prevent temperature fluctuations. Regularly switch out pans if service is slow.
  • Routinely check the temperature of your commercial steam tables to prevent bacteria proliferation and prevent the spread of foodborne illness. Keep water levels maintained throughout the day to ensure efficient operation, and wipe down and sanitize wells at the end of each day to prevent bacterial growth.
  • Bent edges on steam table pans create gaps that allow steam to escape, costing you a great deal of money by compromising the heating ability of your tables. Replace pans or straighten the edges with a pair of pliers.
  • Choose an appropriately sized ventilation hood for your kitchen’s needs.
  • Arrange cooking equipment properly so that your hood is located squarely over your stove.
  • Installing a variable speed vent allows you to save 30-50 percent on ventilation costs.
  • Locate wine refrigerators in a cool, dry environment, away from heat generating appliances.
  • Close the door when the cooler is not in use.
  • Monitor temperatures inside your wine cooler to identify energy wasting issues as quickly as possible.
  • Perform regular maintenance as recommended by the manufacturer to keep your wine cooler working efficiently.
  • Wine refrigerators are not a part of the federal ENERGY STAR Program, so be certain to carefully compare energy efficiency ratings when purchasing a wine cooler.
  • Purchase the right size system for the job. A window unit that is too large will actually work less efficiently and less effectively than a smaller, properly sized model.
  • If you have it, don’t run central air conditioning at the same time as window units. Use fans to circulate air instead.
  • In the summer, set your thermostat to the highest possible comfortable temperature. The smaller the difference between indoor and outdoor temperature, the lower your cooling bill will be.
  • Don’t set thermostat temperature to a colder setting than normal when you first turn on the system, this will not cool the room any faster and can result in unnecessary cooling costs.
  • Don’t locate your air conditioner next to heat generating appliances.
  • For optimum energy savings, consider upgrading window units to newer, Energy Star rated models. Newer window units are 20 percent more efficient than units 10 years old and older. What’s more, Energy Star rated models use about 15 percent less energy than conventional window units, and offer features such as timers which allow for the cooling of a room with minimal energy use.

Biggest energy culprits in any home

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the one appliance that uses by far the most energy after heating and cooling equipment is the hot water heater. This means the appliances that rely on hot water, such as the dishwasher, are costing you even more. The best move you can make when upgrading your water heater is to switch to an energy efficient or tankless model. From there, the next major appliance putting a dent in the electricity is the clothes dryer with the refrigerator coming in at a close second.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, this is how the numbers break down for the average home. These figures assume your home has newer appliances, however. The numbers would shift dramatically if the refrigerator or freestanding freezer were 15 years old, for example.

  • Water heater – 2400 kWh for a family of two
  • Clothes dryer – 1000 kWh
  • Refrigerator – 600 kWh
  • Dishwasher – 300 kWh
  • Clothes washer – 200 kWh

Are there laws governing energy usage?

The more electricity a home uses the more tax the homeowner pays each month. Laws apply more to the manufacturers. There are standards set that compel them to produce appliances that use less energy. The law also requires each product to have a label that shows energy usage and the ENERGY STAR rating. Checking that ENERGY STAR rating before buying is one of the easiest appliance energy tips to follow.

What are the tax benefits of energy efficient appliances?

The state and federal government offer incentives to reduce energy usage, mostly in the form of tax credits. The tax regulations vary from year to year, so it is important to consult with a tax specialist when looking at appliance energy tips. In general, you may be able to deduct at least part of the purchase cost of an energy-efficient appliance along with the installation fees on your federal tax return using IRS form 5695.

In addition to the federal tax benefits, some local utility services offer discounts and rebates for switching to more energy-friendly appliances. It is worth a visit to the utility company website to see if they have a program that encourages energy efficiency.

Appliances are a big part of the energy picture. Let us help formulate appliance solutions that fit your needs and put you on the energy-saving fast track. Set up an appointment with one of our energy specialists for an evaluation and visit our website often to keep up to date on appliance energy tips.