But of course the more appliances we use, the more energy we use - and this can mean higher electricity bills. But using your appliances in particular ways can reduce your energy use and cut your power bill. Here are my top tips for five essential household appliances:
1. The washing machine
Laundry is no laughing matter when it takes over the house, and a hefty power bill is the last thing you want to add to the equation. Step one to getting on the right track is to buy the right size washing machine for your circumstances. A big machine that you struggle to fill isn’t energy efficient. A small machine you have to run constantly just to keep up with your weekly laundry isn’t right either.
Once you’ve got the right machine for your needs here’s some tips to keep costs low:
- Try using cold water on wash cycles instead of hot.
- Always wash a full load. Washing one full load will use less energy than washing two smaller loads.
- If you have to wash a smaller load adjust the water level (if your machine doesn’t do this automatically).
- Soak stained clothes in a bucket of water before washing. Removing most of the nasty stains before it goes into the wash may stop you from having to wash items again.
- Think about the clothes you have and plan ahead so you only have to wash once or twice a week. For example, I only wash whites once a week, so I make sure every family member has enough white socks for a full week.
Clean the washing machine to keep it in good working order. You can keep the pump and hoses clean by mixing a cup of vinegar and half a cup of baking soda and running this through the machine on a hot cycle from time to time.
2. The fridge
The fridge is generally the most used household appliance. Here are some tips to making sure it’s working efficiently:
- Cool down hot foods before placing them in the fridge or freezer.
- Keep the fridge full. Fridges operate more efficiently when full. If your fridge is hardly ever full, it’s likely too large for your needs and costing you more to run.
- There’s no need to continually adjust the temperature. Set the temperature of your fridge to three degrees Celsius and your freezer to minus 18 degrees Celsius.
- Ensure the freezer stands level on your kitchen floor so the door closes properly.
- Keep your fridge organised and put all food and drinks that you reach for regularly in the same place so you don’t need to keep the door open too long. Every time the door is opened, cold air escapes and warm air enters, making your fridge work harder and use more energy.
- Like the washing machine, keep your fridge clean and the seals mould free for best results.
3. The computer/laptop
Computers have become a standard appliance in many homes but they can consume a lot of energy if not programmed to sleep when idle. Some energy savings tips to consider are:
- Adjust the brightness of your computer screen. Turning the brightness down will reduce its energy consuming.
- Screen savers don’t save energy, they were originally designed to save your screen from the ‘phosphor burn-in’ that can happen when an image sits static on a screen for too long. With a screen saver running, your monitor is still using full power. Your best bet is to switch off the monitor when you walk away from your computer.
- Better yet – shut your computer down when it’s not in use. In some cases this can actually give the computer a chance to install any updates when it’s restarted the next day.
4. The dishwasher
Dishwashers can speed the kitchen clean-up, but you have to be clever about how you use them. Did you know that most of the energy used in your dishwasher is used to heat the water? Here are some tips to using your dishwasher efficiently:
- Only run a full load, this will save energy and water.
- Use the economy cycle, which washes the dishes on a lower temperature and may use substantially less water.
- Scrape excess food scraps into the bin – your dishwasher is not a garbage disposal unit.
- Clean the dishwasher regularly by running an empty machine on a hot cycle using 25 grams of citric acid instead of detergent to keep it in tip top shape.
5. The kettle
Cuppa time? Kettles are 50 per cent more efficient than a stovetop when it comes to boiling water, so keep using yours but follow these few tips:
- Don’t overfill the kettle: only fill it with as much water as you need.
- Turn the kettle off at the wall when not in use if it uses standby power.
- Clean your kettle every month with vinegar solution to remove built up limescale.