Posts Tagged ‘energy efficient’

New blog series: Things I Want

June 4, 2010

I’ll be moving into my new house this week and — more importantly — I’ll be inheriting another’s appliance choices.

The kitchen, as pictured in the listing.

Right now, that consists of:

One by one (or two), I’ll replace each of the appliance, either to improve efficiency and performance or because one simply konks out. And in the case of the fridge, that could be sooner rather than later…

Appliances don’t come cheap, and though I get a discount on them, they’re still an investment. So I’ll have to decide where to spend my money and where to save.

Because it’s dominating my thoughts the last few days, I’m going to channel my forthcoming appliance purchases into a series of blog posts called “Things I Want.” I’ll write them based on what I’d pick if I were going shopping today.

My criteria considers performance, features, aesthetics, durability, efficiency, price and warranty — not equally, however. And they all must be sold at Warners’ Stellian, obviously. But there’s really nothing I’d want that we don’t sell.

I’ll split it into two categories,  one aspirational and the other more achievable. I’m trying to think of what to call each category, and I keep thinking I’m ripping “Desired/Acquired” from something. But until I find out for sure…

Look for the first “Things I Want” post Monday.

Get paid to have your second fridge hauled away

June 2, 2010

How much are you paying for your pop fridge?

When I closed on my house last week, I asked the former homeowners question that wrinkled their noses.

“How old was that fridge in your basement?”

They looked confused but told me, “We probably shouldn’t be using anyway, I guess. It was such a pain to move. I don’t know…1960s, I think.”

My jaw DROPPED.

My energy stat knowledge doesn’t go back farther than ’70s models, which cost about $278 per year to run. So a fridge from the ’60s must cost at least $300 to run. That’s some pretty expensive beer they’re cooling.

I think many people don’t unplug their ancient second fridge because they don’t know how to get rid of it.

And certainly most homeowners don’t know that many utility companies pay them money to come pick it up!

Xcel Energy is among the local utility companies with a refrigerator recycling program that offers $35 to pick up a working second refrigerator. Some also run this program for freezers. Of course, you must be a customer of the utility to participate.

Some utilities, like Minnesota Power, up the ante to $50 to get you to give up that beer fridge. Even if you use the money towards a new refrigerator (if you use Rochester Public Utilities, you can get up to $75 for replacing and recycling a refrigerator), your energy usage on the new unit will likely be significantly reduced.

Here’s a complete list of refrigerator bounty programs from the Office of Energy Security.

Are stainless steel appliances an environmental no-no?

May 19, 2010

Stainless steel has become the standard finish for many when replacing kitchen appliances.

The growing popularity of commercial ranges like Viking and Wolf ranges introduced stainless steel to the kitchen.

And soon homeowners wanted to coordinate the clean, contemporary look with refrigerators, dishwashers and microwaves.

But environmental concerns wisely also influence purchasing decisions today.

The Star Tribune’s Fixit columnist, Karen Youso, posed the question of whether stainless steel appliances should worry eco-conscious consumers.

Her answer, happily, is no:

Stainless steel can be — and is — recycled. (According to the International Stainless Steel Forum, new stainless-steel products are made from about 60 percent recycled stainless.) Its alternative, enameled steel, also is recyclable, so stainless steel isn’t significantly better or worse for the environment.

But materials aren’t all that important when trying to determine how earth-friendly home appliances are. What matters most is energy efficiency, said Lise Laurin, founder of EarthShift, a Vermont company that works with corporations and institutions on sustainability.

Of course, we recycle replaced appliances for free on most purchases, so you can feel comfortable about upgrading to stainless steel. Just make them Energy Star appliances.

The bad habit that can waste 20 gallons of water

May 17, 2010

You might not wash your dishes before you wash your dishes, but even rinsing is completely unnecessary.

Energy Star, a joint program by the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy, cautions people to scrape, not rinse. Pre-rinsing dishes can waste up to 20 gallons of water.

Energy Star dishwashers and today’s detergents are designed to do the cleaning so you don’t have to pre-rinse.

And if your dirty dishes are going to sit overnight, use your dishwasher’s rinse feature. It uses a fraction of the water needed to hand rinse.

Speaking of a using a fraction of the water, a dishwasher built before 1994 wastes about 8 gallons of water per cycle compared to owning a new Energy Star-qualified model. So if you replace one of these old dishwashers with an Energy Star dishwasher, you’re saving enough water each week to wash two loads of laundry in an Energy Star qualified clothes washer.

So be lazy: scrape, don’t rinse!

10 sneaky ways you’re wasting money in your kitchen

March 23, 2010

This is among posts I prewrote to be published in my absence while I took vacation time. I will respond to all comments when I return. Thank you!

You bought your kitchen appliances on sale. Bonus: they’re Energy Star, so you’ll save money in water and energy costs.

But did you ever think that the way you use your appliances can really affect your utility bills?

Here are 10 energy-wasting choices to avoid:

1. Making your dishwasher heat up cold water

Run hot tap water before you run your dishwasher it doesn’t have to heat up the water as long.

2. Setting your refrigerator and freezer too cold

Your fridge section should be set at 37 degrees to 40 degrees, and your freezer section should be set at 5 degrees. A deep freeze should be set at zero degrees.

3. Using an uncovered pot to boil water

Think of all the heat  — and time — lost without a cover on  a pot of heated water. Instead, a cover traps the energy in.

4. Selecting “Heat Dry” on your dishwasher

If you don’t wash a lot of plastic dishes, or lots of dishes in general, choose the “Air Dry” setting or simply prop your dishwasher door open after the rinse cycle.

5. Leaving foods uncovered in the refrigerator

Uncovered foods release moisture, causing the compressor to work harder. Instead, cover all liquids and foods.

6. Prewashing your dishes

Not only will it decrease the effectiveness of your dishwasher detergent, prewashing your dishes is unnecessary and wastes water. Just scrape off the big pieces of food.

7. Ignoring the gasket on your refrigerator

Close your refrigerator door over a piece of paper or dollar bill so it’s half in and half out of the refrigerator. If you can pull it out easily, your door seals aren’t airtight.

Try moistening the gasket with a thin layer of Vaseline, which should create a better seal. If that doesn’t do the trick, you might need to replace the gasket altogether.

8. Cooking with dirty burners and drip pans

Clean burners and drip pans will reflect the heat better, cooking your food faster and saving you energy.

9. Placing small pans on bigger burners

Match pans to the size of the element. Otherwise, you’re using energy to heat a bigger burner only to let it escape around the sides of the smaller pot or pan.

10. Barely stocking your refrigerator

It seems backwards, but a full refrigerator holds temperature better than a poorly stocked refrigerator. Just don’t pack food so tight as to block the airflow.

So you’re on the waiting list: what now?

March 2, 2010

By this morning, rebate reservations for the Trade-In & Save Program (aka Cash for Appliances) had been exhausted, leaving only spots on the waiting list.

Approximately 6,000 rebates each for washers and dishwashers were reserved either by phone or online as well as of 11,400 for fridges and 2,000 for freezers.

So, you’re on the waiting list: what now?

The process looks exactly the same as the process for an actual rebate reservation, except without a guaranteed rebate. You’ll have 30 days to purchase a qualified appliance, arrange for “Proof of Demanufacturing” if you’re replacing a fridge or freezer and postmark your application materials.

The rebate processor will hold received wait-listed applications is the order they are received by mail. They will be opened in this order as needed as additional funds become available and awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Again, no guarantees and no communication from the State Office of Energy Security or the Department of Commerce, but if you’re going to buy anyway, we have nothing to lose. Right now is certainly the time to buy, with oodles of manufacturers’ rebates and Warners’ Stellian’s own sale prices and instant stimulus rebate.

Our sales staff can help you identify the manufacturers’ rebates on your new appliances, but remember to check for possible rebates from your utility company (see dsireUSA.org for a complete list of incentives).

Buy an Energy Star washer, get the dryer for free*

February 9, 2010

*this is not a promotional offer. Just keep reading; you’ll catch on.

(Unfortunately, the washer that comes with a drum full of $100 bills is now discontinued.)

The amount you’ll save on water and electricity costs over the life (in this case, 11 years) of an Energy Star washer will pay for the matching dryer.

You’ve heard plenty anecdotal advice about energy-efficient appliances saving you money on your utility bills.

But when you’re comparing price tags — an estimated $492 for a conventional washer versus an estimated $750 for an Energy Star-qualified washer — it may seem like you won’t save money at all.

But let me run the numbers for you, given the above estimates with an average of 7.5 loads per week, according to the Energy Star Web site (aka my second home):

$258 (initial cost difference)
$481 (life cycle savings)
___________________
$223 (net life cycle savings)

So, you’ll save $223 over the life of the washer, meaning that you’ll make up for the upfront additional cost of an energy-efficient model within 4.7 years.  But that’s just the savings of a standard new washer versus an Energy Star washer. Most Energy Star washers replace a old “clunker.”

Nearly 30% of all clothes washers in the U.S. are more than 10 years old. Replacing a model that old with an Energy Star model can save you more than $135 a year on your utility bills.

$135 x 11 (average life span) = $1485 savings.

$1485? That buys a really nice dryer.


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