Monday, March 10, 2008

It’s Easy To Be Green, Week 5

This is another installment of Lichterman Nature Center's twelve week It's Easy To Be Green program that MLGW employees are participating in.

This week we are taking a look in the kitchen. Your kitchen uses more energy than any other room in your home. Your major appliances (refrigerator, dishwasher, stove, washer and dryer) account for a large portion of your monthly utility bill. Refrigerators alone account for 14% of the average household’s electricity bill. (To see an actual breakdown of your household energy usage, log on to MLGW's My Bill dashboard.)

Action Items

Use your microwave oven instead of the stove cook top or conventional oven whenever possible. The microwave uses one-third of the energy.

Use a toaster oven for small baking tasks. It uses half as much energy as a conventional oven.

Make sure the oven gasket is tight in order to avoid heat loss. Resist the urge to open the oven door when cooking. Each opening can reduce the oven temperature 25 degrees.

Do not stand with the refrigerator door open. Decide what you need or want before you open the door. Leaving the door open allows cold air to escape and results in greater energy use.

Brush or vacuum the dust off of the refrigerator coils. The refrigerator uses less electricity when the coils are clean.

Use the “energy saver cycle” on your dishwasher. Or, turn off the dishwasher after the final rinse and prop the door open to air dry the dishes.

Resist the temptation to run a partially loaded dishwasher. A dishwasher uses 16-20 gallons of water per load.

Energy Conservation and Energy Efficiency are two sides of the same coin. Most people think these terms mean the same thing, but they don’t. Energy conservation means reducing the level of energy used (i.e. turning down a thermostat or turning off a light). Energy efficiency means getting the same job done while using less energy. Efficiency is usually addressed by replacing an older, less efficient appliance with a new one.

If your major appliances are more than a decade old, you are probably spending more on utility costs than is needed. However, if you are not in the market to purchase a new appliance with the Energy Star logo, the way you can reduce the amount of energy your appliances use is by changing the way you use them.

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