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Local Limelight: Weeklyish Articles Of Interest

Home Appliance Savvy
by Valerie Garrett, LEED AP
Coordinator, Green Development Resource Center
and Regional Green Building Hotline

Every winter, over 30 percent of the typical home energy bill is space heating. The next highest energy cost goes to running appliances. With this in mind, there are several opportunities for increasing your appliances’ energy efficiency in addition to changing habits to conserve energy. The majority (over half) of our energy in the Pacific Northwest is generated from fossil fuels. In Multnomah County, due to local utility companies’ power mixes, we are even more dependent on fossil fuels (70%), with electricity from coal generation being the most prevalent. This clearly shows each watt of electricity saved though efficient appliances and conservation habits means less carbon dioxide particles (a product of combustion) in the atmosphere.

Appliance Efficiency
Which appliance uses the most energy in our homes? After tank-type water heaters, refrigerators are the energy hogs. Next in line are the clothes washer and dryer, the range, then the dishwasher. When you purchase a new ENERGY STAR fridge or freezer (by December 31, 2009), Energy Trust of Oregon will pay $50 for every old fridge or freezer you recycle and even cart it away for free, on top of a cash rebate. Consider replacing appliances over ten years old.

  • When buying a new appliance ask about cash back and tax credits from the vendor.
  • New appliances have a yellow EnergyGuide tag showing electricity use and estimated cost to run the appliance compared to similar models. Look for the arrow to be on the farthest left of the horizontal black bar (indicating lowest energy use).
  • Opt for a front-loading clothes washer. These use drastically less water and energy, are quieter, and are easy on your clothes.
  • Side-by-side refrigerators use more energy than those with top or bottom freezers. Size matters: a 19-22 cubic feet refrigerator serves a household of four.
  • Select a dishwasher with an Energy Factor (EF) of at least 0.65 (40% better than the federal standard).

Easy Conservation

  • Track your electricity bill and watch your usage and fees decrease each month as you upgrade your appliances and/or make small changes in the way your household uses energy.
  • Locate your fridge in a cool location (away from direct sunlight and the range).
  • Let food cool completely before placing in the fridge.
  • Minimize range use and cook with a toaster oven, crock pot or microwave when possible.
  • Unplug your microwave and countertop appliances when not in use to save powering the digital clock and “on” lights.
  • Use a “smart” power strip.
  • Use the “energy saver” or “air dry” button on your dishwasher control panel.
  • Clean lint filters before drying each load of clothes.
  • Wash and rinse laundry in cold water, except for bedding (to kill dust mites).

Questions? Contact the Regional Green Building Hotline at 503-823-5431 or greenhotline@ci.portland.or.us.
 

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