Your kitchen contains a host of energy-using appliances and there are ways to reduce their energy use. First, buy the most efficient units possible. This includes refrigerators, dishwashers, and stoves. (There isn’t much difference in microwave oven efficiency.) Identifying the most efficient models is simple: just look for the EnergyStar label. This assures you that it’s among the top efficient models.
For refrigerators avoid the automatic ice maker and drink dispenser because they cause more breakdowns and leaks, in addition to increasing energy use. Can you consolidate one refrigerator for two that you already have? A second refrigerator freezer, especially an older one, greatly increases your energy costs.
Selecting the most efficient stove is also important. Induction stoves are now the most efficient and provide features not available with traditional electric or gas stoves. Induction stoves are still more expensive but the energy savings can repay the extra cost (especially if you cook at lot).
Energy-Saving Kitchen Tips
If you aren’t buying any new appliances, you can still practice energy-saving behaviors. Those can cut your energy use in half in some cases. Some of the most efficient conservation practices are
- Covering cooking pans/pots
- Using an electric kettle instead of running hot water
- Loading the dishwasher fully before washing
- Relatively small measures, such as reducing the number of times the refrigerator is opened
- Removing extra refrigerators/freezers
- Placing the faucet lever on the kitchen sink in the cold position when using small amounts of water; placing the lever in the hot position draws hot water even though it may never reach the faucet.
- Looking for blue flames in natural gas appliances; yellow flames indicate the gas is burning inefficiently and an adjustment may be needed. If you see yellow flames, consult the manufacturer or your local utility.
- Keeping range-top burners and reflectors clean; they will reflect the heat better, and you will save energy.
- Using a covered kettle or pan or electric kettle to boil water; it's faster and uses less energy.
- Matching the size of the pan to the heating element when cooking.
- Using the microwave oven when possible
- Using small electric pans, toaster ovens, or convection ovens for small meals rather than your large stove or oven. A toaster or convection oven uses one-third to one-half as much energy as a full-sized oven.
- Not setting your refrigerator or freezer too cold. Recommended temperatures are 35°-38°F for the fresh food compartment and 0° F for separate freezers for long-term storage.
- Making sure your refrigerator door seals are airtight. Test them by closing the door over a piece of paper or a dollar bill so it is half in and half out of the refrigerator. If you can pull the paper or bill out easily, the latch may need adjustment, the seal may need replacing, or you may consider buying a new unit.
- Regularly defrosting manual-defrost freezers and refrigerators; frost buildup decreases the energy efficiency of the unit. Don't allow frost to build up more than one-quarter of an inch.
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