Tips From Our Resident Designer…Home Appliance Tips to Save Energy- Part One: Refrigerators and Stoves and Ovens

After heating and cooling, appliances are a big contributor to energy costs. In fact, they can account for about 12% of your energy bill. To lower your costs, be smart. For example, in the kitchen, use smaller kitchen appliances whenever possible. Think microwaves vs. stove. Small stove burner vs. big stove burner. Toaster oven vs. big oven.


  • If you’re thinking about a new, efficient refrigerator, you should know that refrigerators more than 10 years old could be costing you $100 per year to run.
  • ENERGY STAR®refrigerators use at least 15% less energy than non-qualified models, and 40% less than models sold in 2001.
  • Don’t leave your refrigerator door open. Every time it’s opened, much of its cool air escapes.
  • A full refrigerator retains cold better and uses less energy than an empty one.
  • Make sure your refrigerator and freezer doors automatically swing shut. If not, adjust the legs or feet so the refrigerator leans back just enough so the doors will close on their own.
  • Check the seal on your refrigerator door by closing it on a dollar bill. If you can pull the bill out easily, it’s time to replace the seal.
  • Keep the refrigerator temperature set between 35-38°. Keep the freezer at 0°.

Vacuum or dust the refrigerator coils twice a year to keep the compressor running efficiently.


Stove and Oven

  • Shut off your oven a few minutes before food is done and let the residual heat finish the cooking.
  • Use your oven light to check cooking progress to avoid opening the oven door. Much of the oven’s heat escapes each time you open it.
  • If you use your oven’s self-cleaning feature, do so immediately after using the oven to reduce the time it takes for the oven to reach such a high temperature.
  • Use your heat-producing oven later at night or cook with a crockpot.
  • Use lids on pots and pans to reduce cooking times and reduce the amount of hot steam escaping into the air.
  • Boiling water is as hot as it can get. Once you reach a boil, turn down the burner to maintain the temperature.
  • Match the size of your burner with the size of your pan. Don’t use a large burner for a small pot or pan.
  • Your microwave uses less energy than your stove.
  • Use a toaster oven for baking rather than your large oven when you can. A toaster or convection oven uses 1/3 to 1/2 as much energy as a full-sized oven.

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Pam Ahern

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