You're on a mission: to reduce the shock of your monthly electric bill. All together, your home appliances probably represent about 15 percent of your energy bill.
Unlike your toaster, coffee maker and waffle maker, you probably don't unplug major appliances when you're done using them, such as the washer, dryer, or water heater. That's partly why they're known as “energy vampires”: they continue to draw energy simply because they remain plugged in, adding constantly to your electric bill.
It's more important than ever to adopt some practical, money-saving tips about using your major appliances.
Money-saving washer tips
- Check the water setting on your washing machine before you do a load so that you use only the water you need and don't elongate the cycle unnecessarily.
- Wash clothes in cold water. About 90 percent of the cost of running a washing machine goes to heating the water; only about 10 percent goes to running the motor.
- Try to do “large” loads whenever possible. They use as much energy as “small” loads.
- If you're worried that cold water won't clean your clothes as well as warm or hot water, use specialized cold-water detergents, which can boost cleaning power. Or pre-soak or pre-treat stains or heavily soiled laundry beforehand.
Money-saving dryer tips
- Separate drying loads between lighter fabrics and heavier ones (like towels), which take longer to dry. It wastes energy to continue drying lightweight clothes that are already dry but are simply along for "the ride."
- Avoid overloading your dryer. Clothes need room to circulate and tumble around to dry effectively. A dryer stuffed with clothes may require a second run cycle, which consumes more energy.
- Try to dry multiple loads in quick succession. Like an oven, a dryer takes time to heat up, so it will save energy to capitalize on the heat that's already in your dryer.
- Remove and clean out the lint screen after every load. Even more so than the filter in your furnace, it can quickly become clogged with lint and debris. A clogged lint screen will reduce your dryer's efficiency.
- Periodically use a long-tipped attachment to vacuum the stubborn lint and debris that can become wedged in the lint screen slot.
- Take the preventive step of checking the dryer vent several times a year to ensure that it's not blocked or “scrunched” by damage. A robust vent will help save energy; it may even prevent a fire. If you wish to replace the vent, use a rigid material that will resist collapse.
- Consider air-drying some of your laundry on a drying rack or retractable drying line. Place it near an open door or window to expedite drying time. Some people dislike air-drying because it can leave clothes stiff, but you can compensate for this result by using fabric softener during the wash cycle.
Money-saving water heater tips
- Set your water heater at 120 degrees.
- Insulate your water heater. If it feels warm to the touch, seal in the heat with an insulating cover.
- Wrap the pipes that extend from the water heater. Like an insulating cover, “pipe wraps” can be found at your favorite home improvement store. But looks aren't everything; you can do a fine wrapping job by using old rags or towels and securing the pipes with twine.
- Consider a tankless water heater, which will deliver water right where you need it and can save as much as 50 percent of the cost of heating water.
Most American families do about 300 loads of laundry a year, which means that your washer and dryer get a real workout. If yours are nearing the end of their lifespan – and more frequent repairs are a red flag – consider limiting your search to Energy Star products.
As Hignell knows, it takes many proactive measures to chip away at an electric bill. That's why we call it a “mission” – and one that we're standing by and ready to assist you with every step of the way.
The Hignell Companies has joined you on this mission, supplying many ideas in previous articles including:
Next time you need help with an electrical or other home maintenance task, consider The Hignell Companies. We are experts in your home.