Archive for the ‘Energy Efficiency’ Category

Dryers become the next Energy Star

July 15, 2014

energystarsappliancesThe Environmental  Protection Agency announced this spring the first-ever Energy Star dryer label.

I know what you’re thinking:

“Wait, you mean there wasn’t an Energy Star label for dryers before?”

I know, right? However, the popular thinking was that dryers couldn’t vary much among each other in energy use therefore, there was no reason to call them out.

But about three years ago, the EPA began to take steps to expand the program and reported on ways that clothes dryer efficiency could be improved.

The new label will recognize highly efficient gas and electric dryers that use about 20% less energy than required by 2015 federal standards.

Over 80% of U.S. homes have a clothes dryer, and these appliances account for approximately six percent of residential electricity consumption.

So far, one brand has already jumped on the new category. Whirlpool announced an Energy Star rated Duet steam dryer.

Whirlpool brand Duet® model WED87HED steam dryer

Whirlpool brand Duet® model WED87HED steam dryer

Many of today’s dryers already use temperature or moisture sensors to shut off the dryer once clothes are dry and cease using energy past its usefulness. Dryer models that meet the new Energy Star requirements are likely to improve upon these “auto termination cycles.”

From Energy Star:

Among the more efficient gas and electric dryers that will earn the Energy Star, consumers should expect to encounter a promising new technology. Heat pump dryers recapture the hot air used by the dryer and pump it back into the drum to dry more clothes. By re-using most of the heat, it creates a heat pump dryer that is more efficient and avoids the need for ducts leading heat out of the laundry room.

 

 

5 appliance myths that waste your time & money

September 4, 2013

washing-machineMYTH: Cold water won’t properly wash your clothes

FACT: Modern washers are designed to clean in cold water and 90 percent of a washer’s energy goes toward the water heating. So by washing with hot water, you’re pouring money down the drain.

MYTH: You must rinse your dishes before they run in the dishwasher

FACT: Dishwashers and detergent clean best when starting with dirty dishes. The detergent needs food to activate and many dishwashers use sensors to determine the “turbidity” level of the water so if the dishwasher thinks the dishes are already clean, it will run shorter and colder.

Today, an Energy Star dishwasher uses only 4 gallons of water or less, and some estimates say you’ll use 20 gallons of water from your faucet pre-rinsing dishes. So it’s better to run the dishes through 4 times than to put them in rinsed.

MYTH: More soap = more clean

FACT: Just because dishwashers and washers now require less water to clean properly doesn’t mean that everyone has gotten the message to reduce our detergent use in conjunction. Too much dishwasher detergent can leave a white film on dishes and too much laundry detergent can cause oversudsing in the washer, reducing the performance and lifespan of a washer not too mention leaving soap residue on your clothes that didn’t properly rinse out.

MYTH: Using an old refrigerator as a second beverage refrigerator is a money-saving idea

fridge-cost

FACT: The electricity to power an old refrigerator over several years will cost more than an energy efficient replacement…and then some! Energy Star’s website cleverly offers a Refrigerator Retirement Savings calculator.

I plugged in what I consider some common figures and found that the cost to a homeowner of a 20 year old top-freezer fridge (probably 18 cu ft) would be $620 over 5 years. A new Energy Star model costs about $40/year to run vs. $125/yr PLUS many local utilities will actually pay you $35 or more to let them come haul away your second refrigerator.

MYTH: Buying a more powerful A/C will cool down your space faster

FACT: The A/C will just cycle off more frequently when it reaches the temperature in the room, reducing efficiency, lifespan and causing uncomfortable temperature fluctuations. Buy a window air conditioner or room air conditioner that’s just right for your space.

MYTH: When the oven’s preheating chime sounds, it’s fully reached temperature

FACT: Some preheat chimes are on a timer so it shouldn’t be trusted for finicky bakers, who should test the temperature with a thermometer. For your everyday pizzas and casseroles, you’d be fine however.

MYTH: You don’t need to turn on your ventilation until there’s smoke

FACT: You should start running your ventilation 10 minutes before you start cooking to create an airflow and leave it running 5 minutes after you’re done for best results.

Appliance energy savings (on a stick)

August 23, 2013
stainlesssteelfrenchdoorrefrigerator

Check out the energy savings on THAT one! A fairgoer learns about the payoff of Energy Star appliances.

Again this year we’re educating Minnesota State Fair-goers about the money and energy you’ll save by using Energy Star appliances.

The Eco Experience, housed in the Progress Center building, educates Minnesotans about sustainable living practices from not throwing away your aluminum can (can you believe 60% do?) to keeping our drinking water clean to — the main event — Energy Star appliances!

energystarsappliancesThe federal government created the Energy Star label 20 years ago to promote to consumers appliances that went above and beyond the standards set for energy efficiency.

These energy-efficient appliances, though sometimes more expensive at point of purchase than standard appliances, represent a greater lifetime value when factoring in the money saved through lower utility costs.

Only refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers and washers currently carry Energy Star ratings, though the word is that dryers will soon follow. Not all appliances can be Energy Star rated because there’s not enough difference in energy use within the category to create a meaningful distinction for buyers. We’ll see if that changes.

New this year!

Warners’ Stellian is proud to partner with the University of Minnesota College of Design for the Gen Y Eco House  exhibit, designed by students to reflect the future of home design for Millennials. The students say that their generation cooks little but values energy and water efficiency so we’re featuring appliances that pack a punch in a smaller footprint: a Bosch induction cooktop, a Fisher & Paykel DishDrawer and a U-Line compact refrigerator/freezer. The laundry is stackable with an Energy Star washer and a sensor dryer. Instead of an oven, the students chose an Electrolux convection microwave, which works double duty to both reheat and bake.

 

Appliance energy savings — on a stick

August 24, 2012

Warner Stellian enjoys a storied history with the State Fairgrounds. And for the last few years, our appliances have made a comeback appearance at the Minnesota State Fair.

The Eco Experience, located in the Progress Center on Randall Avenue, brings together organizations, ideas, and hands-on activities to show what the fair-goers what they can do at home to help the environment.

(By the way…while you’re saving the environment…By replacing your refrigerator, washer, dishwasher and freezer from the 1980s to new Energy Star appliances you can save an average $350 a year in energy costs. Save away!)

Warner Stellian is partnering with the Fair again this year to demonstrate the options for choosing energy efficient applicances. Our display consists of a vignette of a kitchen (with island cabinet) and ENERGY STAR refrigeratordishwasher, and other appliances with an adjacent laundry room demonstrating a HE washer and dryer.

ENERGY STAR qualified appliances incorporate advanced technologies that use up to 50% less energy and water than older models. If you’re already in the market for new appliances, choosing ENERGY STAR appliances over standard appliances will cost you an average $80 less annually in water and energy (even if they cost a few more smackeroos upfront).

Also included is an ENERGY STAR freezer, air conditioner and dehumidifier.

You’ll find tips on how to decrease the energy you use on the appliances you already own.

If you like PowerPoint, awkward blondes and saving energy, come see me at the Eco Experience Sustainability Stage this Sunday, Aug. 26 at 2:30 p.m. I’ll be showing you how to save money and energy both when you purchase new appliances  and when you use what you’ve already got at home.

AS SEEN ON TV: Appliance tips to maximize your kitchen

July 3, 2012

Rena Sarigianopoulos of KARE and Carla Warner of Warner Stellian chat about how to help your appliances help you.

Carla Warner visited KARE 11 News@4 on Monday to share some tips for making the most of your most-used kitchen appliances.

In case you missed us, here are those tips:

Microwave

1. To get rid of that popcorn smell or other odors, squeeze a lemon into a bowl of water and boil it in the microwave it for several minutes. Allow the bowl to cool before opening the microwave door and then wipe down the interior with a soft cloth.

2. Take advantage of different power levels. Most people only cook using 100% of the microwave’s power and just nuke everything. But you can effectively use your microwave to soften and melt gently, too. To quickly soften butter, cook 1 stick for 1 minute on 10% power level.

Refrigerator

1. A small amount of condensation on the fridge or freezer is normal, especially during humid weather and summer vacation, if you see more condensation than normal, check the seal (or gasket) for any obstructions and clear them. If there aren’t any, try moistening the gasket with Vaseline by rubbing a thin layer on the seal where it meets the cabinet of the fridge. This should create a stronger, air-tight seal.

2. Brands might create the perfect space for gallon-jug storage on your refrigerator door, but consider how quickly you will use highly perishable foods (like milk) before storing them here. Why? Consider the temperature fluctuations of this region of the refrigerator. Accordingly, produce like broccoli, asparagus and apples benefit from colder temperatures located near the rear, while corn and berries — for example — benefit from the warmest spot in the refrigerator, so choose those for the front. (Alternatively, fresh herbs like basil thrive in slightly warmer-than-fridge temperatures, so I keep mine in the door!)

3. Use your crisper. Those clear drawers in your fridge aren’t just for convenience. Many models allow you adjust the humidity of your crisper drawers to suit their contents. Consult your use & care manual for specifics on your model, but in general, separate your fruits from vegetables and set humidity to high for green, leafy vegetables and low for fruits and vegetables with skins. Meats should be colder – often just above freezing – so keep them in your deli drawer, which is usually designed to stay colder.

Range

1. Keep your burner caps and drip pans clean. Maintaining a tidy cook surface isn’t just about impressing company. Dirty surfaces don’t reflect heat as well as polished surfaces, thus wasting energy and potentially your time. We sell range top cleaner made specifically for cooking surfaces that will help you keep your range or cooktop looking — and cooking — well.

2. Match pots and pans to the size of your burners
Unless you’re using an induction cooktop or range, you’re heating a lot of air while you try to heat your food. For instance, induction cooking – which only heats the cooking vessel and not the air — is 20% more efficient than electric and 70% more efficient than gas. To lessen energy loss, choose the appropriate-sized pot or pan for the size of burner you’re cooking on (i.e. don’t put a 1-qt saucepan on a ginormous “power burner”).

3. Cover your pots while boiling water
When you think about it, it makes no sense to boil water in an uncovered pot. Using a cover helps water boil faster while creating pressure and preventing evaporation. Saving lots of time and energy.

 

Frigidaire Gallery dishwasher’s crazy rotating spray arm adds 4x the water coverage

May 25, 2012

This Frigidaire Gallery dishwasher promises to clean better, get your dishes completely dry and do so quietly.

There’s a reason that the most-read posts on this blog are about dishwashers.

They’re frustrating.

Half the time the dishes come out still needing to be dried — or worse — washed. Can’t they just get it right the first time?

And if your dishwasher does do the job, it probably makes its presence well known to anyone in earshot.

Sound familiar?

Frigidaire is making a big deal out of the Frigidaire Gallery dishwasher they’re selling that addresses each of these issues.

1. The OrbitClean technology, aka satellite-action lower spray arm, works independent of the upper and middle spray arms and covers 4x more area with concentrated soap and water.

Instead of drawing the same pattern of water over and over again, the OrbitClean rotates on the spray arm as it turns in circles at the base of the dishwasher. Watch the video. It’s pretty crazy.

2. The fan-assisted dry (“SaharaDry”) eliminates the need for toweling off your glasses while unloading.

3. The alternating wash arms that improved the wash action of the dishwasher also lessen the noise output. But the four-sided sound insulation wrap further ensures that this Frigidaire Gallery dishwasher is the quietest in its class (aka for the money; it retails at $599 at Warner Stellian).

PLUS, you’ll receive a free one-year extended warranty if you buy one before August 2012.

If you buy this dishwasher, Frigidaire is saying they get it right the first time; so no do-overs in terms of dishwashing. But if you share another do-over you’d LIKE to do, you can win the dishwasher.

4 ways to cook more efficiently

March 27, 2012

No, I’m not offering tips on expediting meals with mise en place. I’m talking about ways to save energy when cooking.*

Stoves, cooktops and ovens aren’t Energy Star rated, because most models use about the same amount of energy. But there are certainly ways to use less gas or electricity when cooking.

Here are 4 tips to help you become a more energy-efficient cook:

1. Keep your burner caps and drip pans clean
Maintaining a tidy cook surface isn’t just about impressing company (or your cat).

Dirty surfaces don’t reflect heat as well as polished surfaces, thus wasting energy and potentially your time. Read my manageable daily cleanup plan.

2. Match pots and pans to the size of your burners
Unless you’re using an induction cooktop or range, you’re heating a lot of air while you try to heat your food. Induction cooking is 20% more efficient than electric and 70% more efficient than gas.

To mitigate energy loss, choose the appropriate sized pot or pan for the size of burner you’re cooking on (i.e. don’t put a 1-qt saucepan on a ginormous “power burner”).

3. Cover your pots while boiling water
When you think about it, it makes no sense to boil water in an uncovered pot. Using a cover helps water boil faster while creating pressure and preventing evaporation.

4. Skip preheating
Unless you’re baking and require precise temperatures, you don’t need to wait till your oven reaches 350 degrees to throw your food in.

I start cooking my casseroles as soon as I start my oven, and not only do they still turn out, they often turn out faster than if I wait for the oven to heat up! Better yet, shut off your oven a few minutes early and let residual heat finish off your dish. Even better yet, make two pans to freeze leftovers and reheat in the microwave later.

*If you’re trying to cook faster, use the microwave (coincidentally, using the microwave as an alternative to the oven cuts energy use in half).

Burner-less induction cooktop senses the shape and location of cookware to heat anywhere on surface

January 9, 2012

Induction cooktops, already the hottest way to cook, just got hotter.

The new Thermador Freedom Induction Cooktop heats up your cookware wheverer you place it - no burners.

No more being limited to four or five burners of the same shape.

The new Thermador Freedom cooktop lets cooks place their cookware anywhere on the cooking surface — even oddly shaped items like griddles or roasting pans (think of the gravy making possibilities).

The cooktop will intelligently recognize the cookware size, shape and position to deliver heat without boundaries.

If you’re wondering, ‘What is an induction cooktop?’ Induction cooking rivals gas cooking’s responsive temperature control while being much more efficient, safer (the surface stays cool to the touch) and the smooth surface naturally is easier to clean.

If you’re really into specifics, here’s more info from Thermador:

  • 48 individual 3-inch induction heating elements translates to a 63-percent more effective cooking area on the surface by eliminating the conventional standard of predefined elements.
  • A 6.5-inch, full-color touchscreen display that recognizes pot shape, size, and controls power setting and cooking time
  • Surface area to accommodate a 21-inch x 13-inch pan with the largest cooking surface in the industry
  • A range of 4,600-watt maximum power output with Boost feature and 15-watt minimum power output

But what would a super innovative product be without a color touchscreen these days? The obligatory touchscreen doesn’t just control temperature but shows the position of all cookware.

The Thermador Freedom Induction Cooktop will be available July 2012 with a MSRP of $4,949.

Water heater tax credit 2011

December 30, 2011

If you bought a water heater this year — or think yours should be replaced soon — this post could be worth $300 to you.

KSTP reported last night that taxpayers have until the end of 2011 to buy energy efficient products to qualify for incentives, such as a $300 water heater tax credit. See the website for full details on what qualifies and the maximum amounts you can receive.

Also if you for replace your water heater with an energy efficient model, local utility companies such as Xcel and Centerpoint both offer water heater rebates (about $40-$200) , which you can find on the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency.

Xcel will pay you $70 to retire your beer fridge

September 21, 2011

Xcel wants your beer fridge. And if you’re a residential customer in Minnesota, Xcel will actually pay YOU $70 to come pick it up and recycle it.

Usually, Xcel pays $35 (I did this back in January; shame I didn’t wait), but the retirement reward is double now through the end of November 2011.

To qualify, it must be a functional, second refrigerator, capable of making ice.

Now, just imagine the happiness you can buy me with that $70.

Don’t be greedy, that’s my commission. You’ll agree once you hear how much a beer fridge costs to run.

Not an Xcel customer? Minnesota Power offers up to $85 to pick up old, working refrigerators. Here’s a list of energy providers with similar programs.


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