Hidden Energy-Guzzlers Part 6: Where your money is really going

Uncategorized Apr 18, 2013 No Comments

If you have been following any of these recent blogs, you will have picked-up that we are on a mission to uncover and eliminate hidden ‘energy guzzlers:’ the appliances, equipment, and habits that, unknown to us, are wasting energy and causing us unnecessary expense. We have found that some appliances and equipment, much to our surprise, use much more energy than we would have guessed (flat screen TVs and hot tub pumps). But there are a couple of appliances that, at first blush, might seem to be energy-suckers, but in fact are not.
I asked a few people at work to identify the two appliances in their kitchens that they thought were the biggest energy-wasting culprits. To the person, each one listed both their dishwasher and their electric stove. By the way, none of these folks thought that their refrigerator was an energy-waster. I pointed them to blog number one. Like them, I really thought my dishwasher and electric stove used lots of electricity, so I try to use them sparingly. I was surprised to find that they actually use much less electricity than I thought. This was good news for me because I love to cook and hate to wash dishes.
First, the Dishwasher. I figured that we ran our dishwasher 18 times (cycles) a month. That’s a little more than every-other-day. At $0.17 per KWH, the dishwasher costs us an average of $6.62 a month. Huh. I spend more than that on breakfast. What about all that hot water? We were of the opinion that if we cut down on running the dishwasher and washed dishes by hand, we’d be saving money. Not so. I found that we use less energy washing dishes in a dishwasher than washing by hand! This is one of those counter-intuitive things. It’s like taking a bath versus taking a shower. With all that water running down the drain, it would seem that a bath would use less water than a shower, but just the opposite is true. Same with washing dishes by hand.

Even though there was a smile on my face when I found that the dishwasher wasn’t a true ‘energy-guzzler,’ I was given a couple of tips that can help reduce the energy usage even more.
First, run the dishwasher only when full. We found that this reduced our monthly usage from around 18 cycles to around 15. But here’s the tip that I thought was pretty cool. We were told to use the cool-dry cycle (on our dishwasher it’s called the ‘no heat’ button) rather than the hot cycle. Never thought about that. I guess I thought that they needed that cycle to make sure the germs were killed. The utility guy told me that, with 160 degree water, the germs were already dead and it just takes a little longer for the dishes to dry. For those of you who don’t have this feature on your dishwasher, you can turn it off after the final rinse and let the dishes air dry. I guess that this can reduce the dishwasher’s energy usage by 30-40 percent.

Next, the Electric Stove. We figured that we used the stove-top around 45 minutes to an hour a day. The average monthly cost, oddly enough, is only $7.25 a month. Not bad. Everyone I asked thought this one was the bad-boy of the kitchen, using much more energy than any other appliance. Interestingly enough, some of my friends have spent hundreds of dollars on counter-top appliances that they purchased just so they wouldn’t use their stove. One friend, who just spent $135 on a convection-type, dome-shaped oven, upon hearing how little his electric stove was really costing him, gave me the “thanks a lot” look. Should have saved his money.

In closing, here are a couple of tips we picked-up regarding how we can reduce the stove usage even more.
• Foods cook faster at lower temperatures if you use pots with flat bottoms and tight-fitting lids.
• Pans that are bigger or smaller than the heating coil waste energy. (Weird. I thought that by putting the smaller pan on a larger coil would cause it to heat-up faster)
• You can also save energy by using your microwave oven, slow-cooker, toaster oven, and electric skillet instead of the larger oven or stove.