Xcel Energy Refrigerator Rebate

beer-fridgeXcel 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 Detergent

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 shower heads, 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 shower head nozzles became clogged, according to laboratory results. Shower heads using softened water, meanwhile, performed nearly as well as on the day they were installed.

If it sounds like you have hard water, our local guys, Water Doctors, can diagnose your water and if necessary, customize a water treatment system for your home.

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!