Posts Tagged ‘home energy use’

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.

Hard water wastes your energy and your detergent

August 17, 2011

If you’re not ecstatic about the performance of your dishwasher and/or washer, don’t immediately blame your machine. There could be something in the water.

Using a water softener can cut detergent use in washers and dishwashers by more than half and lower washing machine temperatures from hot to cold, as shown by two  independent studies released in the last two years.

Less detergent and cold water achieved the same stain removal in washing machines using softened water as double the detergent and hot water in hard water. And dishwashers using softened water needed less than half the detergent if used in areas having very hard water (Minnesota is among areas with the hardest water), while achieving the same results.

Plus, the study showed that untreated hard water can cause significant efficiency losses and added costs in water heating – up to 48% in some cases. In addition, hard water was found to rapidly lead to clogged showerheads, in some cases possibly as soon as a year and a half.

(After just one week of constant testing with hard water, more than three-fourths of showerhead nozzles became clogged, according to laboratory results. Showerheads using softened
water, meanwhile, performed nearly as well as on the day they were installed.)

All these factoids beg the question, at least for me: Do I have hard water? Is that why I have to wash my dishes after my dishwasher does?

Well, don’t look at me. I have no idea how to spot hard water. But our local guys, Water Doctors, can diagnose your water and if necessary, customize a water treatment system for your home.

6 tips to reduce your energy use and energy bill

May 9, 2011

The biggest step toward making your house energy efficient is choosing Energy Star appliances. Energy Star appliances offer 10-50% energy savings compared to standard, new appliances.

So, I’m not even talking how much energy savings you’ll get from unplugging your decade-or-so old refrigerators, washers, freezers and dishwashers.

But just because Energy Star only rates those four appliance categories, doesn’t mean you can’t be energy efficient on your stove and dryer, for instance.

Here are six ways to further reduce your energy bill by staying mindful of ways you can save on home energy use.

1. Stop rinsing your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher, which  wastes up to 20 gallons of water. Energy Star dishwashers use only 4 gallons of water on average.

2. Water heating consumes about 90% of the energy it takes to operate a clothes washer. Switching your temperature setting from hot to warm can cut energy use in half. Using the cold cycle reduces energy use even more.

3. Use the moisture sensor option on your dryer, which automatically shuts off the machine when clothes are dry, saving energy and reducing wear and tear on your clothes caused by over-drying.

4. Choose the right-sized pot on stove burners and keep it covered to cook more efficiently and keep your kitchen cooler.

5. Move your refrigerator away from the stove, dishwasher, or heat vents. Make sure the door seals are airtight. Also, keep your refrigerator and freezer stocked to hold temperature better and operate more efficiently.

6. Microwaves only use about half as much electricity as regular ovens, so using them is already a smart alternative. But you can save even more energy if you defrost food in the refrigerator instead of the microwave and cook food in its serving dish save the cost of the water used to do twice as many dishes.


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