Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Hit a Home Run with Home Energy Savings

Batter up!  Though it feels like summer just started, it’s already time for the mid-summer classic when baseball’s best players gather in one place for the annual all-star game. You may not be able to hit a fastball (or even a tee-ball) but you can become an all-star this summer too – an energy efficient all-star! 

Tonight’s game is a reminder that the summer, and the opportunity for real energy savings, can easily pass you by. To get you started on your journey we’ve shared a few tips to help you take your home from the minors to big league savings:

  1. America’s Favorite Pastime: What is more traditional than baseball and apple pie? Grilling of course! Get outside and fire up the grill to enjoy your favorite foods, family and friends. Grilling also uses less energy than an oven and doesn’t add unwanted heat to your home.
  2. Call A Fan Interference: Heating and cooling accounts for nearly half of the energy used at home. Give you’re A/C unit a break by raising the thermostat 2-3°F and flipping on the ceiling fan. It’ll keep you cool and help you save up to 14 percent on cooling costs this summer.
  3. Go for the Changeup: Swap your five most used lights with ENERGY STAR certified light bulbs to save up to $70 annually on lighting costs. ENERGY STAR certified bulbs last up to 25 times longer than traditional bulbs and are more than 75 percent more efficient.
  4. Seventh Inning Stretch & Seal: Did you know that 30 percent of the cool air from your A/C is lost through gaps, cracks and disconnects in your air ducts? Don’t stretch your cooling system’s power too thin – insulate and seal and/or reconnect your ducts for better quality cooling and lower energy costs.
  5. Going, Going….and It’s “Audit” Here: Hit energy costs out of the park with a professional home audit. Find a qualified auditor to assess your home’s energy efficiency and learn where to make upgrades. By completing the recommendations from your audit you can save up to 30 percent or more in annual energy costs. Find an auditor today!

Now you’re up at the plate. Try these energy-saving tips today and never strike out with your energy bill again. For more tips and resources to become an energy efficient all-star, visit us at www.virginiaenergysense.org.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Five Signs Your Home May Be As Overworked As You Are

Did you know July 5 is National Workaholics Day? For those among you who rise early, work through lunch and leave the office well after sunset — we salute you!

Although you may be rewarded for your hard work, we all know the saying “work smarter, not harder.” Did you know the same can apply to your home? Especially in peaking heating and cooling seasons, your home may be working harder than it should be, causing it to consume more energy than necessary and you to pay more in energy costs. An overworked home can also mean reduced lifespan of your home appliances and equipment, while will also bring unplanned maintenance and replacement costs. If there’s one thing your extra hours at the office should NOT be used for – it’s paying for wasted energy!

Help your home curb its overworked habits with more energy efficient practices. Here are five signs your home is working too hard:

1. Too many drafts – Most homes have air leaks that need to be sealed to make your home more comfortable and ensure the money you’re spending on heating and cooling isn’t escaping. A simple way to detect some leakage is by lighting an incense stick and passing it around edges of common leak sites. Wherever the smoke is sucked out of or blown into the room, there’s a draft. Good places to begin are doors and windows and then baseboards and junctures of the walks and ceilings, where leaks occur most often. Once you’ve detected drafts, seal the openings with caulk and/or weather-strips to save up to 30% on energy bills.

image

2. Gadgets galore Each day we grow increasing connected to our phones, laptops and computers and when we’re not focused on our compact screens, we’re focused on the big screen – television. Even when electronics are turned off, they draw energy while in stand-by mode – “vampire” power – which adds up to more than $100 a year. Curb your energy use and annual energy bills by plugging your electronic devices into power strips to easily switch off with one click of a button.

3. Excessively hot water – Most manufacturers set water heater temperatures to 140°F degrees. Lowering the maximum temp to 120°F degrees should be sufficient enough for your home and will save you up to 11% on water heating costs. Take an additional step and add an insulation jacket to reduce stand-by heat loss by 45% and water heating costs by up to 9%.

image

4. Old school thermostat – Does your thermostat still have a dial indicating the current temperature? It’s time for an upgrade. Install a programmable thermostat that automatically adjusts temperatures when you’re asleep and away from home. You can save up to $180 a year – it will pay for itself!

5. Too cold. Too hot. Never “just” right – During heating and cooling seasons, HVAC units are hard at work. It’s important to check furnace filters often as dust particles (and pet hair) clog filters, forcing them to work harder and use more energy. Replacing your air filters regularly can reduce your HVAC’s energy use by up to 15%. If you need a reminder to check your furnace, try an air filter whistle – by simply attaching the whistle to your filter and it will automatically “sing” when it’s clogged, reminding you to make the swap.

Now that you’ve given your home a break, it’s time for a break of your own! Before hitting the road for summer vacation though, make sure to check our tips for saving energy and money while you’re away at http://www.virginiaenergysense.org/at-home/vacationtips/.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Virginia Student Wins National Contest for Energy-Saving Invention

Congratulations to Justin Heaton, 6th grade student at Damascus Middle School in Washington County, for winning the Igniting Creative Energy (ICE) Challenge in the Middle School Division! Since 2002, Johnson Controls and the National Energy Foundation have sponsored the ICE contest which challenges students to submit their unique solutions to improve energy and water conservation and the environment.

Inspired by a visit to the Hoover Dam last summer, Justin wondered how he could use the water in his community to create enough energy to power his home. The result was a design of a Micro Power plant, which uses water pressure to generate electricity. According to Justin, his parents told him to “figure out if power could be generated in this way, and I DID!”

Justin’s video of his Micro Power plant earned him the National Grand Prize for the 6-8th grade divisions which included: an Apple gift card and an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C. for him and his family to present his project. 

To learn more about Justin’s project, click the video below. For more information on the contest, visit www.ignitingcreativeenergy.org.

Way to “Value Your Power” Justin!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Time to Put Energy Efficiency on Your Spring Cleaning List

It’s been a long, cold winter for most of us but spring is finally here! The most obvious change in how we use energy during the coldest months of the year is space heating, which may have led to some sticker shock on your energy bills. Besides reducing the heat in your home as the weather warms, there are many other simple things you can do to boost energy efficiency—starting with spring cleaning! Here are some easy steps to incorporate to your other seasonal fixes around the house, most of which require little more than cleaning, dusting or replacing a few low-cost items.

  • During your normal cleaning routine, it’s easy to forget the areas we don’t see, like behind appliances. But behind items like your refrigerator, dust easily builds up on cooling coils, causing the refrigerator to run less efficiently. Get some help to pull the refrigerator away from the wall for an easy vacuum and dusting to help keep your fridge (and its energy consumption) in tip-top shape! Also, make sure the refrigerator door seal is clean and tight so cold air doesn’t leak out. If you have an older fridge, say 10 or 15 years old, consider replacing it with a new ENERGY STAR-certified model that will result in significant energy savings. You can save up from $200-$1,100 on energy costs over the lifetime of the fridge.
  • Speaking of dusting, make sure to dust or wipe off light bulbs. A clean bulb provides much more light for your money! If you still have any incandescent bulbs, replace them with more efficient lights like CFLs or LEDs that use at least 75% less energy.
  • After scrubbing your bathroom sink and shower, consider purchasing an energy-saving showerhead, faucet or flow restrictor. These gadgets will help save water, which also cuts down your energy bill by reducing the amount of water that needs to be heated.
  • As you finally get to store away winter clothing and equipment, make a quick stop at your water heater. If you haven’t checked it before, it may be set at a default setting of around140°F. For most of us, however, 120°F should be sufficient for your water heating needs. And for every 10ºF you reduce the temperature, you can save around 3–5% on your water heating costs. (Learn more about lowering your water heating temperature from the Department of Energy.)
  • Before you start letting the warmer fresh air in, check any sliding doors that lead outside to see whether the track is clean – a dirty track can ruin the door’s seal and create gaps where heat or cold air can escape.
  • While you’re cleaning and moving things around, it’s a good time to unplug appliances like computers, TVs, DVD players and game consoles from the wall and reconnect them using a powerstrip. The powerstrip allows you to turn them on and off more easily when not in use and can save energy. By using a power strip, you can avoid “vampire power” – energy used when appliances are not in use but left plugged in – which can add up to an average of $200 in yearly energy costs.

For more energy- and money-saving tips to stay efficient throughout your home, all year round, visit virginiaenergysense.org

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Energy Saving Tips for the Garage

Let’s say you have completed your personal home energy saving checklist.  You’ve caulked and sealed cracks and gaps around your home, you use a programmable thermostat that regulates your home’s heating and cooling when you’re away, and your neighbors know that you’ve bulked up your insulation levels in the attic. You’ve done great! But alas, there may be more energy- and cost-saving opportunities you can tackle.

Even the most energy efficient homeowner can easily forget about the lesser-used spaces in your home. Garages, especially those connected to your house, can contribute to high energy bills in a handful of ways. Here are a few simple tips to keep in mind:  

image

Appliances: Take note of that old refrigerator hanging out in the garage. More than 60 million refrigerators are over 10 years old, costing consumers $4.4 billion a year in energy costs. If your refrigerator was made before 1987, it costs you around $190 per year to run – even if it’s empty! Upgrading to an energy-efficient fridge with the ENERGY STAR label could cut your refrigerator energy usage by up to 70% and save you close to $133 every year.* And if you aren’t quite ready to replace it, keep it unplugged until you really need it. With some creative storage and grocery shopping habits, you may find that kitchen refrigerator is plenty to handle your family’s cooling needs. Use the ENERGY STAR Savings Calculator to find out exactly how much money you’ll save by replacing your existing refrigerator.

Water Heater: If your water heater lives in your garage, now would be a good time to think about insulating your water heater pipes. Using pipe insulation available for purchase from online retailers and your local hardware store, insulate the first five feet of pipe coming out of the top of your water heater. If the whole length of exposed pipe between the water heater and the wall is less than five feet, insulate the full length. Insulating pipes also help prevent pipes from freezing and bursting in cold weather.

The garage door: If you’re feeling drafts near doors inside your home, just imagine how your largest door may be! Thick, durable weather stripping around the garage door will prevent heating or cooling you’re paying for from escaping and outside temperatures from coming in. Apply fiberglass duct wrap on the inside of the door to make it even more energy efficient. Keep the garage door closed as much as possible. Make sure the walls shared with the interior of your home are also well insulated. If heat collects in your garage during the summer, the hot air can seep into your home and raise the cost of air conditioning.

image

Lighting:  Lighting is one of the simplest things you can change inside or outside of your garage. Since lighting uses about 20 percent of a home’s overall energy, switching to more efficient bulbs like CFLs or LEDs can cut your energy use significantly — they’re more efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs and last 50 times longer than a traditional incandescent bulb and 10 times longer than a compact fluorescent!. While CFLs and LEDs may cost a bit more at the store than your old light bulbs use only 20%–25% of the energy and last up to 25 times longer than the traditional incandescent bulbs they replace.

For more tips to start or continue saving at home, visit www.virginiaenergysense.org.

*Source: ENERGY STAR

Friday, February 14, 2014

Do Something Sweet for Your Home (and your wallet) this Valentine’s Day!

On Valentine’s Day this year, besides the normal flowers and candy for loved ones, why not take a few moments to show your home and wallet some love? Here are just a few simple, quick steps (with little or no cost!) to help make your home more energy efficient during these cold months.

image

Take Advantage of the Sun: Before you leave in the morning, try to take advantage of the sun’s rays to naturally heat your home by opening the blinds to let the sunlight in! When you return home after the dark, make certain to close the blinds to keep the chill out.  Find out more about energy efficient window treatments.

Maintain Your Heating Systems: Take a moment and schedule a service for your heating system. And be sure to regularly replace your furnace filters to keep your HVAC system from working harder than it should be. If you have pets, you may need to replace (or clean reusable) filters more regularly to remove dust, dirt and dander.

image

Adjust the Temperature in Your Home: One of the simplest and most effective quick tips is to install and properly operate a programmable thermostat to help reduce heating and cooling costs — the biggest portion of your energy bill. Seems like a no-brainer, but check out this podcast from ENERGY STAR for instructions on operating your thermostat. Use your programmable thermostat to easily set the temperature back just a few degrees when you leave the house or won’t notice the change, like when you’re sleeping.

Turn Down Your Water Heater: During average seasonal temperatures, energy consumed by heating your water heater accounts for 18% of your energy bill. Though default manufacturer settings may be closer to 140 ° Fahrenheit, setting your water heater to 120° F should be sufficient for your needs while easily reducing your energy use.

image

Install Gaskets Behind Outlets & Switches: Installing foam gaskets behind electrical outlets and light switches to reduce air leaks and to prevent heated and conditioned air from escaping through small holes. You can also use gaskets to seal off recessed lighting and save energy.

Visit virginiaenergysense.org for tips to help you become even more energy efficient throughout your entire home.

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Twelve Days of Energy Savings

Between holiday lighting displays, large festive meals and the arrival of cold weather, Americans use the largest amount of energy in December and January. Spreading holiday cheer doesn’t have to come with a hefty energy bill. There are many ways you can save energy this winter while still celebrating the holidays and keeping cozy.

This is the perfect time of year to get started. We’ve identified 12 energy saving projects, each taking less than a day to complete, that will add up to big savings for you and your family. It’s time to start celebrating the Twelve Days of Energy Savings!

Day 1: Understand Your Energy Bill

Ease into your 12 days of energy projects with a simple one that can make a big difference: understanding your monthly energy bill. You can find an easy-to-read breakdown of your bill on the Virginia Energy Sense website. Know what you spend the most money and energy on to lower your usage next month.

Day 2: DIY Energy Audit

imageNow you’re ready to dive in. Start saving right with an energy assessment of your home to identify what fixes will help boost your efficiency. A professional energy audit is the most thorough way to inspect your home for energy waste, but you can also get started cost-free with an online home energy test. That will provide some potential ways to save based on your home’s age, energy sources and other characteristics.

Day 3: Light Bulbs

Did your energy audit reveal that you’re still using incandescent light bulbs in fixtures you forgot were there? By replacing 15 traditional incandescent light bulbs with LEDs or CFLs you can save $50 a year and more than $600 over the life of the bulb. They live much longer and save you money. The best of both worlds!

Day 4: Detecting and Sealing Air Leaks

Most homes have air leaks that need to be sealed to make your home more comfortable and ensure the money you’re spending on heating and cooling isn’t escaping. A simple way to detect some leakage is by lighting an incense stick and passing it around edges of common leak sites. Wherever the smoke is sucked out of or blown into the room, there’s a draft. Focus first on baseboards and junctures of the walks and ceilings, where leaks occur most often. Once you’ve detected drafts, use the U.S. Department of Energy’s easy guide to get started with the right air sealing for your problem areas.

Day 5: Water Heater Temperature

imageToday’s task is as easy as pie. Simply lower your water heater’s maximum temperature to 120 degrees. The default manufacturer setting for many water heaters is 140 degrees, but 120 should be sufficient for most homes. This simple act can save you up to 11 percent on your water heating costs and still provide you with a hot shower.

Day 6: Water Heater Blanket

Head back to your water heater for another simple fix: fit your water heater and the first five feet of exposed pipe with insulation blankets. Heating water, though necessary, consumes a lot of energy. Adding the blanket and insulating your pipes can help raise your water temperature 2-4 degrees, saving you money water heating for showers, laundry and other tasks.

Day 7: Sealing Your Switches

While your light switches are covered by a wall plate, air can still easily escape from them. Check to see if there are foam gaskets under the faceplate. If not, these inexpensive gadgets can be purchased from your local hardware store and easily installed for quick energy savings. Foam gaskets can also be placed behind electrical outlets. Complete the process by plugging in child safety plugs to further reduce escaping air.

Day 8: Doors and Windows

Another great way to keep the heat in (and the cool air out) this winter is by weatherstripping your home. Weatherstripping is good for areas that often open and close like doors and windows. As there are many different kinds to choose from, consult the Department of Energy’s guide to decide which is best for your project.

Day 9: Install a Programmable Thermostat

imageA programmable thermostat can regulate the temperature of your house based on time of day, season and your schedule — helping you save as much as 10% a year on heating and cooling costs. They can be purchased for as low as $20 or as high as a few hundred dollars.  But before you make a purchase, check with your utility provider to see if they offer free installation or an incentive toward your purchase.

If you do install it yourself you should:

  • Carefully read all instructions
  • Place it on an interior wall, away from any heating or cooling units that may affect its temperature reading.
  • Shut down electricity during the replacement to ensure your safety.

You can also find programming instructions in our DIY Guide (pg. 12-13).

Day 10: Smart Power Strips

Even when you aren’t charging a device, a plugged-in charger still draws power. To avoid being a victim of “vampire power” — which can account for adding 10% or more to your energy bill — stop plugging appliances and electronics directly into wall sockets. Instead, try smart power strips that can automatically cut power drain. Even if you are using traditional power strips, you can easily turn off all connected appliances with one simple switch.

Day 11: Save on New Appliances

Your home can always benefit from a little retail therapy. Take advantage of the holiday sales to upgrade an old refrigerator, dishwasher, laundry machine or water heater to a newer, more efficient model. Energy efficient appliances, which are easily identified by an ENERGY STAR label, will save you money for years to come.

Day 12: Refrigerator and Freezer

Check your temperature settings for your refrigerator and freezer. The fridge should be set anywhere between 37 degrees and 40 degrees Fahrenheit and the freezer should be around 5 degrees Fahrenheit. For even more savings, try the “dollar bill” test.Try to slide a dollar bill in your refrigerator door. If you can easily move the dollar back and forth, replace the seal around the door.

Just because we’ve limited our list to 12 days of energy savings doesn’t mean you have to! Head over to virginiaenergysense.org for tips to help you become even more energy efficient all year round.

Great Gifts for the Energy-Savers in Your Family

The holidays often find us searching for the perfect gift for our friends and loved ones. Virginia Energy Sense is here to help. We have 10 gift ideas for efficiency-minded gadgets that are sure to be a hit with the energy savers in your family.

Each of these presents can be found at your local hardware or electronics store or online retailer, and many cost just a few bucks. Pick up one of the gadgets and start helping your loved ones save energy and money for years to come.

1)   Air Filter Whistle imageYou should regularly replace the air filters on your heating and cooling unit — as frequently as every month during the summer and winter, when you use the system the most. Air filter whistles make it easy to remember. Simply attach the whistle to your filter and it will automatically “sing” when it’s clogged, reminding you to make the swap. Sure, the whistling isn’t quite as catchy as your winter sing-alongs, but clean filters maximize efficiency saving you money in the long run – helping you keep that holiday cheer all year long.

2)      Smart Power Strips —On average, 10 percent of the cost to power our electronics is wasted to vampire load, the energy used when devices aren’t even in use. Smart power strips have special settings that maintain continual power to critical devices while cutting electricity to others when they are not in use. So go enjoy your lights shining as brightly as Rudolph’s nose and then turn them off with one simple click.

3)      Wireless Outlet Controls —Do you always forget to turn off the house or holiday lights? If so, pick up a wireless outlet controller to give yourself a backup. These devices enable you to control any electronic device remotely on your computer or with an app on your smartphone. Simply plug the controller tool into the wall, and then plug any appliance or device into the controller to instantly give you the power to save on the go.

4)      Insulated Letterbox Flap — Mail slots in doors are notoriously drafty and lead to major heating and cooling loss. If you don’t want to replace your entire mail slot, find models that now attach to the inside of the door and are invisible from the outside. They cut down on drafts while still allowing mail to be pushed through.

5)   Electrical Outlet Gaskets imageThe average household spends nearly half of its electric bill on heating and cooling, but you could be wasting money from gaps, cracks and other air leaks in your home. A simple way to start preventing some of this air loss is to install foam gaskets behind your light switch and AC outlet faceplates. The gaskets only cost a few bucks and you can seal up all your outlets with nothing more than a screwdriver.

6)      Electricity Usage Monitors —To save energy, you need to arm yourself with information. Plug the monitor into the wall and enter the price per kilowatt-hour for your area. Next, plug any device into the monitor and use it as normal for a few days. Check back later and the monitor will tell you how much it costs to run the device per month, including how much energy is wasted to vampire load. After a few weeks, you’ll have a good understanding of your biggest expenses, meaning you know where to target your savings.

7)      Device Charging Stations —Holiday gifts like your new phone, music players, and tablets will consume plenty of electrical power. Cut down on the power you use by consolidating them into a single charging station. The stations enable you to charge multiple devices simultaneously, reducing the amount of energy consumed per device. They also sense when devices are fully charged, automatically shutting off to reduce vampire load.

8)      Radiator Insulation Panels —Also called radiator reflector panels, these thin metal sheets slide between your wall and radiator, and reflect the heat off the wall and back into the room. By circulating the air and reducing the heat wasted into the wall, your heater doesn’t have to work as hard. These simple devices can cut up to 30 percent off your heating bill.

9)      Water Tank Jackets — Curling up inside with a warm blanket is a great way to pass the time in the winter. Don’t let your water heater miss out on the fun. Wrap your water tank with a blanket to improve insulation by as much as 45 percent. Heating water takes a lot of energy but keeping the water hot lets your water heater take more frequent breaks, saving you money.

10)   Efficient Showerheads image Speaking of hot water, pick up one of these nifty showerheads that reduce the water wasted while you wait for your shower to heat up. The showerhead has a built-in thermometer and runs normally when you first turn it on and the water is still cold. Once the water’s hot, the showerhead automatically cuts the flow to a trickle. The change in sound will signal your shower’s ready and reduce wasted water before you hop in. A simple pull of a lever will return the flow to normal. Pick up one of these to help you conserve electricity and water.

Sure, they may not be the most traditional stocking stuffers, but they are the gifts that will keep on giving for many years (and holidays) to come. For more energy-saving tips, visit www.virginiaenergysense.org.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Tackling Energy Savings: Series Pt. III - Living Room

This post is the third in our series featuring ways to reduce consumption and save money in your home’s most used rooms.

image

Football is back and it’s time to score energy savings in the room where families across Virginia gather every weekend to watch the game. For many of us, the living room is the entertainment capital of the house. You can lead your entertainment center to optimal savings with a few energy efficient improvements. Practice makes perfect, so establishing energy saving habits will greatly improve your home’s efficiency. Here’s the game plan:

Start by clearing the area in front of air vents to avoid blocking cool air and/or heat. Install a programmable thermostat that automatically adjusts your heating during times you’re typically away from home and during sleeping hours. If you have ceiling fans, set them to spin clockwise on colder days to push the warmer air down; ceiling fans allow you to lower your thermostat by 4°F without noticing a difference. You can also reduce your reliance on the thermostat on cold sunny days by opening blinds to heat your space naturally.

Still scrambling for more savings? Some simple practices include using the locks on your windows to make them tighter and draft resistant. Smart power strips have special settings that maintain continual power to a critical device while cutting electricity to others when they are not in use.  Even traditional power strips are handy for powering off several unused devices with one flip of the switch. And if you have a fireplace, make sure the flue damper is closed tightly when not in use to prevent heated air from escaping through the chimney.

Make bigger plays by sealing leaks in your home that allow cold air in:

  • Install foam gaskets behind your light switches and outlet faceplates to reduce air leaks through even the smallest of gaps and cracks.
  • Caulk and seal windows and doors where air loss and leakage commonly occurs.
  • Mail slots in doors are drafty and lead to major heating loss. If you don’t want to replace your entire mail slot, find models that attach to the inside of the door and are invisible from the outside.  They cut down on drafts while still allowing mail to be pushed through.
  • Have single-pane windows? Add storm panels to cut heat loss by 50 percent for a cheaper alternative than new window treatments.

And no living room is complete without an ENERGY STAR qualified television, which, on average, are 25 percent more energy efficient than conventional models.

Don’t get sacked by high energy bills. Protect your home with more energy saving tips at www.virginiaenergysense.org and check back next week for our final installment on how to reduce your home’s energy consumption and save money.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Recipe for Energy Savings: Pt. II - Kitchen

This post is the second in our series featuring ways to reduce consumption and save money in your home’s most used rooms.

image

While the best meals often involve secret family recipes, the perfect recipe for saving money by keeping your kitchen energy efficient is well-known. The kitchen is a major contributor to the energy waste that occurs in many homes. By taking a few steps around your cooking station, you’ll be on your way to lower utility bills.

It starts with your refrigerator, which should be set between 37°F and 40°F to keep food cool without using too much energy. Likewise, you can set your freezer at a steady 5°F. Remember that refrigerators run inefficiently when dust builds on the coils behind the unit, so cleaning the coils will allow your appliance to run easier and longer. And while you’re improving your fridge, slip a piece of paper between the door and pull the paper out – if it comes out easily, you may need to adjust the latch or replace the seal to ensure air doesn’t escape.

When planning your meals, consider grilling instead of using the stove or oven. Grilling saves energy and money and doesn’t add unwanted heat to your home. Here are a few more things to consider when cooking:

  • Allow your oven to multi-task – bake several items at once; using glass and ceramic pans allows you to reduce the heat by 25 degrees while cooking just as well.
  • When possible, use a toaster oven or microwave instead of your large oven.
  • Try to avoid checking your food in the oven by repeatedly opening the door. Instead, use the oven light (but make sure to turn it off after you’re done cooking!).

When it’s time for cleanup, hand wash dishes and allow them to air-dry. When you do use the dishwasher, flip on the automatic air-dry switch or turn off the control knob after the final rinse and prop the door open slightly so the dishes will dry faster.

Looking to renovate your kitchen for long-term savings? Purchasing ENERGY STAR appliances will keep your energy bills down for years to come:

  • Save up to $100 a year on energy costs with an ENERGY STAR refrigerator; a top mounted freezer uses 10-25% less energy than side or bottom mounted models.
  • Install a range hood to help remove cooking odors and control moisture; ENERGY STAR qualified models are quieter than standard models, use 65% less energy (for models with lighting) and save you $120 in energy costs over its service lifetime.

Don’t stop at your kitchen, check back next week for our third installment and visit us at www.virginiaenergysense.org for more energy efficiency recipes for energy savings.