Before you buy any appliance, check to see if it has the ENERGY STAR® symbol. For larger appliances, use the EnerGuide rating to choose the most efficient model, and read the EnerGuide label on the appliance to estimate its yearly electricity costs.
A power bar with a timer helps you be even more efficient: it prevents appliances from using electricity when they’re turned off.
Here are more tips for using appliances wisely.
Fridges and freezers
Fridges and freezers are energy-hungry appliances — your fridge can eat up as much as 11% of your home’s total electricity. Did you know a newer model uses up to 50% less energy than one built just 10 years earlier? You can see the difference a newer model makes in the chart below:
Unplug any unused fridges or freezers.Here are some ways to make your fridge and freezer more efficient:
- Check their temperatures — your fridge should be 4°C; your freezer should be -18°C.
- Defrost your fridge and freezer twice a year.
- Keep fridges and freezers away from heat sources (vents, radiators, furnaces, washers and dryers) so they don’t have to work as hard.
- Check their seals: if you can slide a piece of paper between the seal, it needs to be replaced.
- Keep their doors closed.
- Unplug your fridge and clean the dust from the back or bottom coils twice a year.
- Leave room around your fridge so air can circulate — at least 8 cm (3 inches) of space between the back and the wall, and at least 2.5 cm (1 inch) on each side.
- Inside the fridge, leave enough room for air to flow easily between food so it stays cold.
- Cool hot food to room temperature before putting it in the fridge.
- If you don’t store a lot of frozen food, don’t waste energy and space on an oversized freezer. As a rule, allow 130 litres of capacity per person.
- Full freezers are more efficient. If your freezer isn’t full, fill plastic containers with water and freeze them.
- A chest or top-loading freezer is about 25% more efficient than an upright model.
Washers and dryers today offer many energy-saving features that older models don’t. Here’s what to keep in mind when choosing and using a washer or dryer:Washers and dryers
- Wash and rinse your clothes in cold water — up to 90% of the energy used for laundry goes to heating the water. If everyone in Canada used cold water for laundry, we’d lower our carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 1.5 billion kilograms.
- A water-level control or small-load basket lets you use less water for smaller loads.
- A front-load washer uses about 40% less water and 50% less energy than top-loading models.
- Clean the dryer’s lint trap before every load.
- If your dryer has a sensor, it will turn off automatically when clothes are dry.
- Dry only full loads.
A fully-loaded dishwasher is more energy-efficient than washing a full load by hand. And a dishwasher built today is about 95% more efficient than one built in 1972. When using your dishwasher:
- Don’t pre-rinse dishes — most new dishwashers don’t need it, and just five minutes of pre-rinsing under the tap can use up to 115 litres of water.
- Load up your dishwasher before turning it on: it uses the same amount of water no matter how full.
Stoves and ovens
Before you turn on the stove or oven, see if a smaller, more efficient appliance — a microwave, toaster oven, crockpot, electric frying pan — would do the job. Here’s what to keep in mind when using large and small cooking and heating appliances:
- On the stove, use the right pot for the right-sized burner — a small pot on a big burner wastes energy.
- Choose a self-cleaning oven — it often has more insulation than a regular oven.
- Turn on the oven’s interior light to see what’s cooking — don’t open the door.
- A microwave can lower your cooking-energy costs by up to 50%.
- Your food will cook faster at the edge of the rotary tray inside the microwave.
- Microwaves don’t add heat to your kitchen — which means your air conditioner doesn’t have to work as hard in the summer.
- It’s more efficient to heat water with an electric kettle than the stove top or microwave.
- It’s even more efficient and safer if the kettle has an automatic shut-off button and heat-resistant handle.
- Clean your kettle regularly with boiling water and vinegar to remove mineral deposits inside that lower efficiency.
- A toaster oven is more energy-efficient than a conventional oven AND it’s faster and more convenient for cooking small amounts of food.
- Make sure there’s room around the toaster oven for air to circulate freely.
Electric frying pans
- An electric frying pan uses less electricity than a stove to cook the same amount of food.
- A slow cooker brings out the flavour in food while using less energy to cook it.