Dryers Become the Next Energy Star

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.

Energy Star Dryers

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 6 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.

Kitchen Energy Saving Tips

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. Follow these tips to save energy (and as a result, money) while cooking.

Keep It 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.

Size Matters

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”).

Put a Lid On It

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.

Skip the Preheat

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. 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.

Do you have any tip for saving energy in the kitchen? Share them in the comments section below!

ENERGY STAR Appliances Add ‘Most Efficient’ Category

(At the risk of sounding pretentious) My beloved theory of chase and flight posits a privileged class of people whose behaviors and tastes subordinate others “chase,” thus motivating the former to run — fast.

What does this have to do with appliances? Think of commercial-grade appliances and then look at the stainless steel kitchen package we sell for $1499 (through Sept. 5!).

Same goes for energy efficiency.

ENERGY STAR was created by The Man in 1992 to encourage the purchase and manufacture of energy-efficient home products through a voluntary program labeling the most-efficient products.

Think Studio 54 for dishwashers.

But now that ENERGY STAR is old enough to vote and buy cigarettes, entry to the club is less exclusive; 75% of dishwashers qualified as ENERGY STAR by 2009 standards.

Says Consumer Reports:

It’s good news that products have become more energy efficient. But when many or most of the products in a category qualify for the Energy Star, it makes it harder, not easier, for consumers to identify the truly exceptional products.

It would seem the manufacturers won this chase, until ENERGY STAR’s Most Efficient program was launched this year.

The 2011 efficiency clique calls out the best in four categories, including clothes washers and refrigerators.

Here’s a sampling of the best washers and refrigerators:

LG 3.9 cu. ft. True Steam Washer in Cherry Red (#WM3360HRCA)

Not only is it sexy, this LG washer kills allergens, can maintain cleaning performance without heating the water and has a 15-minute wash option for us procrastinators. And it’s also on sale through Labor Day.

Frigidaire 4.2 cu. ft. Affinity Washer with Ready Steam (#FAFS4272LW)

This Frigidaire steam washer offers a little more capacity, NSF certified cleaning power and power saver cycle that apparently reduces energy use by 60%.

Frigidaire Affinity 4.4 cubic foot washer with Ready Steam (#FAFS4474)

This Frigidaire washer is the big sister to the previous (more capacity) plus an allergen cycle.

Electrolux 5.1 cu. ft. Perfect Steam Washer (#EWFLS70JSS)

This Electrolux steam washer also is NSF certified plus it fit the most clothes in one cycle and it has the fastest wash and dry time (if you have the dryer: 15 and 14 minutes, respectively).

And refrigerators: there were only two and there’s practically the same, save for depth. One will stick out from your cabinets, the other will sit back in line with them and set you back an additional $400.

LG cabinet-depth French-door refrigerator (#LFC21776ST)

LG's French Door Refrigerator (#LFC25766ST)

The Great Minnesota Appliance Sale

While we might not be “at” the Fair — as far as having a booth or being in the Grandstand — Warners’ Stellian annual State Fair appliance sale, Savings on a Stick, is a big one for us.

Not only do the Warners have a storied history with the Minnesota State Fair, but we also have some of our best deals (through Labor Day).

Because I’m a notorious spiller (and when are stains more apropos than during fair time?), I’m going to play favorites and talk laundry.

You can replace your washer and dryer for as little as $699 (which includes delivery, re-installation and recycling of your old units in the Twin Cities metro) with this Amana laundry pair.

But the smartest move is to upgrade to a front load washer and dryer — which tend to offer more capacity while using less water and energy. Energy Star washers can make up for the cost of the dryer in energy savings over their estimated lifetime. Plus, this Frigidaire washer and dryer pair is $300 off right now.

My personal favorite laundry feature, though, is steam. You can get the cleaning power in you washer (plus some more capacity) and the refreshing capabilities in your dryer for a few hundred more, starting with this Frigidaire steam washer and steam dryer.

If you happened to see us at the Eco Experience building in the Common Cottage exhibit on Sunday, you probably were lucky enough to score a $50 off coupon. In fact, there might still be some left if you hurry…

Energy Saving Tips for Appliances

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.

Aside from buying energy efficient appliances, try these energy saving tips.

Ditch the Rinse

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 per load on average.

Turn Down the Heat

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.

Use Your Senses

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.

Right Size

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

Rearrange the Kitchen

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.

Cook Smarter

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.

What are your best energy saving tips? Share them in the comments!