Guide to Green Living

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Sustainable Buying Guide: Kitchen Appliances

Look for newer refrigerator models – Generally, models that are more than ten years old use significantly more energy than newer models. When buying a fridge, look for models with high efficiency compressors, improved insulation and manual temperature controls. Another feature to look for is automatic moisture control to prevent the accumulation of moisture on the fridge’s exterior. Some models use an anti-sweat heater to accomplish this but they use more energy.

Keep size and feature needs in mind – Look for the size of fridge that is optimal for the use it will be getting. If you buy a model that is too big, you will be wasting energy cooling an empty fridge. However, if it is smaller than you need it will become overcrowded and air won’t be able to circulate properly. You should therefore look for a size so that your fridge will be just full. It is much more efficient to keep it full (but not too full) because less energy is lost from a full fridge when you open it. This is because the food items hold a lot of the cold in, just like an ice pack in a cooler. In addition, try to do without some features that come with some models. Such additional features as ice-makers and through-the-door dispenser use a lot more energy and increase the initial cost of the fridge. Also try to avoid models with automatic defrost. Instead go for manual defrost since they use significantly less energy to run. (Keep in mind that with manual defrost, you need to defrost more often to prevent build-up. Frost build-up will make it harder for the fridge’s motor to run.)

Consider alternatives to the conventional ovenThe two most common types of ovens, gas and electric, use approximately the same amount of energy to run. Gas ovens, however, are less efficient due to the accompanying need for venting. There are many new technologies in cooking available now that use less energy than these conventional models. Some examples include convection ovens which use a fan to circulate the hot air in the oven, combination ovens which use microwaves and halogen lamps to cook food, induction systems which cook using magnetic friction, and light energy ovens which use tungsten and halogen lamps. If you’re not one to cook or bake too often, or if there are not many people living in your home, then consider options other than an oven (or stovetop). Instead, microwave ovens, toaster ovens or electric frying pans may be more practical for your needs, they use much less energy, and are cheaper.

Look for an efficient dishwasher – When in the market for a dishwasher, compare the amount of energy and hot water different models use. To reduce the amount of water and energy used by your dishwasher, you should buy a dishwasher with a shorter wash cycle and with different options that allow you to customize the cycle depending on how much cleaning your dishes need. This can include such options as air dry instead of heat dry, and will prevent your dishwasher from using more energy and water than is needed to get your dishes clean. Another thing to keep in mind is the size you need depending on how many dishes need washing and how often. If you don’t need to do the dishes all that often, consider smaller than standard models for your kitchen.

Remember, when buying any appliance, look for the Energy Star logo and energy rating (sometimes as a yellow EnergyGuide label). Find an appliance that is low in the range of energy used by different models. Although these models may be more expensive, it certainly isn’t a rule that they are, and they will save you money in the long run on energy bills.

If you found this post helpful, you may also want to check out our post on using your kitchen more efficiently.

Have any tips of your own? Add them in the comments!


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