In the last blog post, we talked about some simple ways to save real money on your electric bill. Small steps I used to think were nothing but a hassle turned out to have big savings! Just taking a few minutes each day to be diligent about these simple changes to your daily routine can save you as much as $700 a year.
We're going to continue on this path and learn some ways to use – or, in some cases, not use – our appliances to save even more money!
Appliances for Cooking
Whether time in the kitchen inspires you or drains you, it shouldn't drain your energy bill. With a myriad of ways to prepare meals, it might be smart to alter the way you prepare certain dishes during the hotter months.
Oven/Range – .25 cents per Hour
Oven use, especially in the summertime, isn't the most cost-effective option for cooking dinner. It sucks energy and turns your kitchen into a sauna, causing your air conditioner to kick into overdrive. In fact, operating the oven at 350 degrees can use 2400 Watts an hour.
Now, I'm not trying to discourage you from cooking! Making dinner at home is much more financially-smart than eating out. But, when you do use the oven, use it in the smartest ways possible.
- Keep your oven free of shelf liners and aluminum foil. For the oven to cook efficiently, the air inside the oven must be able to circulate correctly.\
- Only preheat the oven if it's essential for the recipe. Even then, wait until you are ready. You'd be surprised how many people preheat the oven as soon as they start meal prep, and the oven runs empty for much longer than necessary.
- Use glass bakeware. Glass cooks more evenly, and you'll notice on recipes, glass usually requires less cooking time.
- Bake multiple things at once. Not everything can share oven space. I mean, you may not want to bake fish and cookies together, but many things can cook at the same time. So, think ahead!
- Use the light to check your progress. Opening the door, even for a few seconds, drops your oven temperature 25 degrees.
Slow Cooker – .01 cent per Hour
Using a crockpot/slow cooker is an excellent alternative to the oven. Not only are they time-savers, but they are also money savers as well!
- Only use about 200 Watts an hour
- Cost about .10 cents for 8-hours of use
- Don't add heat to the house
- Minimize dirty dishes
Crockpots have made a comeback, and there is almost no end to the number of meals you can prepare in them. Plus, I think it's really awesome to toss a few things in my slow cooker before I leave the house and come home to dinner!
Microwave – .12 cents per Hour
Using a microwave is also more cost-effective than using the oven. The average microwave uses around 1200 Watts an hour. That's a 50% savings over the oven. I don't recommend the microwave if it compromises the quality of your food, but for quick reheating and melting, it does the trick just fine.
Toaster Oven – .08 cents per Hour
Using a toaster oven will cost about half the price of a gas oven and one-fifth the cost of an electric oven. That's a substantial savings for an item that is almost identical in function! Plus, it will add less heat to your kitchen, making it a great option.
Appliances for Cleaning
Dishwasher – varies
Is a dishwasher more efficient than hand washing? This depends on so many different factors; I can't answer for YOU.
The general consensus is – surprisingly – a dishwasher uses ⅓ less hot water, ⅙ less water overall, and less soap than most people use when hand washing. So, it can be more energy efficient. But if you factor in the cost of owning and maintaining a dishwasher, the cost to your wallet increases substantially.
So, rather than claim one is financially superior to the other, let's look at ways to be the most efficient.
- Fill the sink with hot water and wash all the dishes at once rather than continuously running the hot water.
- Wait until you have a sink full of dirty dishes rather than washing just a few at a time.
- Rinse in cold water. Hot water is the most significant expense in dishwashing, and handwashing can use up to 27 gallons, so be aware of how you use it.
- Don't pre-rinse your dishes. Today's dishwashers are made to break down food particles and leave your dishes totally clean. Eliminating the pre-rinse step can save you as much as $70 a year!
- Only run the dishwasher when it's full, but don't over-fill either.
- Use the energy-saving cycle whenever possible.
- Air dry rather than heat dry. In the winter, this also adds humidity to the dry air in your home.
Decide which works best for you, then take steps to be as energy-smart as you can be.
Washing Machine – $1.02 per load
I don't know about you, but the washing machine is one appliance I don't ever want to be without! Still, as essential as they are, there are smart ways to use the washer.
First, many of us think we have to wash in hot water to get our clothes clean, but that isn't true. Washing machines and detergents are designed to get your clothes, both whites and darks, perfectly clean with cold water.
Making the switch from hot water to cold saves 90% of the energy your machine uses and can save you as much as $152 a year!
Second, only wash when you have a full load. Decreasing the number of times you do laundry saves water, electricity, and wear & tear on your machine.
Dryer – .60 per hour average
The clothes dryer is one of the most money-sucking appliances in your home. At .45 cents per 40-minute drying time, this energy hog can consume up to 5,000 watts per load.
Wow. I love my dryer, but I may need to give serious consideration to line drying.
You can line dry outside, adding the benefit of your clothes smelling great, or you can find multiple ways and places to dry them inside. Airy drying only takes a few minutes more than tossing clothes in the dryer, but can save up to $135 a year!
However, if using the dryer is essential to your lifestyle, here are some ways to cut costs:
- Use dryer balls. These little wool gems not only reduce static and eliminate the need for dryer sheets, but they also cut drying time by up to 25%.
- Use the auto sensor function, so you don't overdry your clothes.
- Use the “air dry” setting when possible.
- Don't substitute the dryer for the iron to get rid of wrinkles in your clothes.
Appliances for Cooling
Refrigerator – .22 cents per day
Your refrigerator costs about $80 a year for continuous use. And even though it's a necessity, there are still ways to eliminate energy waste. For example:
- Only have one refrigerator. Many people have a secondary refrigerator or freezer that are hardly used and can cost an additional $80 a year.
- Keep your freezer well-stocked. A full freezer reduces energy waste.
- Don't open and close the door multiple times when cooking, and never leave the door standing open.
- Wait until warm items cool to room temperature before refrigerating. Otherwise, you're just warming up the air in the fridge and making it work harder to cool back down again.
- Cover open food and drinks to keep them from adding condensation. The lower the moisture, the less energy that's needed to cool.
- Keep the dial set to between 37 and 40 degrees for the optimum balance of cooling and efficiency.
Air Conditioning – $3.70 per day
We talked about thermostat settings and fan usage in the last blog post, but I want to make a quick mention of your central heat and air vents.
I know vents aren't attractive, so you may be tempted to block them with side tables and accent chairs and such. But it's important to leave enough “breathing room” for your vents – 6 inches or more – for maximum efficiency. The last thing you want on a hot day is for your unit to lock up or quit on you because it didn't have enough circulation.
Also, check your intake vent filter every month. It doesn't necessarily have to be replaced each time, but you should clean it with a vacuum or electric duster to get rid of the clogged-up dirt, fuzz, and hair. A clean filter makes your a/c's job way less strenuous.
A Final Money-Saving Appliance Tip
The last tip is to unplug as many appliances as you can when you aren't using them.
I know this sounds like a big headache, but plugged-in appliances draw “phantom charges.” In fact, the average home wastes more than $100 a year on household appliances that are turned off but still plugged in.
Obviously, you can't unplug every appliance in your home, but you might be surprised how many of them are pulling current just sitting there. Think toaster ovens, TVs, and lamps.
If you put these items on power strips, you can simply switch them off. Power strips use zero current when they are turned off, so it not only saves energy, it saves you the trouble of plugging and unplugging every day.
There you have it! Several more ways to cut corners, cut costs, and reduce energy consumption.
If you diligently put these tips into practice, along with the other 8 simple ways to save money on your utility bill, you really could save $600-$1200 a year! That's big money, my friends!
Bonus Tip: Change Your Energy Supplier
Some utility companies will allow you to change your energy supplier to a lower-cost provider.