DishwashersConsider an upgrade. Replacing a dishwasher manufactured before 1994 with an ENERGY STAR qualified dishwasher can save you more than $30 per year in energy costs.
Run the dishwasher only when it's full to save up to 400 gallons of water per month.
Use the air-dry setting. This can cut your dishwasher's energy use by 15 to 50%.
Check to see if your dishwasher has an internal heater (which heats incoming water to 140 degrees or higher). If it does, you can lower your home's water heater temperature to 120 degrees.
Avoid using the rinse-and-hold cycle. Depending on the age of your dishwasher, just rinsing the dishes could use several gallons of water.
Clean the spray-arm nozzles and water jets. Hard water deposits can be removed with an old toothbrush, reducing the powerful flow of water necessary to clean the dishes.
Use short cycles for everything but the dirtiest of dishes. Short cycles use less energy and work just as well.
Don't assume that washing dishes by hand saves money. If it's fully loaded, your dishwasher may be a better bet. Hand washing dishes uses significantly more water because most people tend to leave the faucet running during the process, using about 35% more water than an automatic dishwasher.
RefrigeratorsKeep cold air in. Open the fridge door as infrequently as possible.
Keep it full. An empty fridge cycles frequently without any mass to hold the cold. If your fridge isn't normally full, fill it with plain water in old milk jugs.
Clean the coils. Move your fridge out from the wall and vacuum its condenser coils at least once per year. Note: On some models, the coils are under the unit.
Unplug the extra fridge in the garage. The electricity the fridge is using - as much as $200 per year or more - is probably costing you a lot more than the non-essential items you may be storing there.
Look for the ENERGY STAR label if you're in the market for a new model. You will be assured of purchasing a refrigerator that meets the highest of efficiency standards. Fridges made before 1993 use more than twice the energy of a new ENERGY STAR qualified model.
Check the temperature. A fridge that is 10 degrees colder than necessary can use 25% more energy. Keep the temperature between 35 and 38 degrees.
Allow hot foods to cool before refrigerating or freezing.
Check your door seals. To find out if your seals are airtight, close the door on a piece of paper and try to pull it out. If the paper slides out easily, cold air is escaping and increasing your electric bill.
Ovens, Ranges and CookersPurchase energy-saving equipment. If you need to purchase a natural gas oven or range, look for one with an automatic, electric ignition system. An electric ignition saves natural gas because a pilot light is not burning continuously.
In natural gas appliances, look for blue flames. Yellow flames indicate the gas is burning inefficiently and an adjustment may be needed. Consult your manufacturer or HVAC contractor.
Keep range-top burners and reflectors clean. They will reflect the heat better, and you will save energy.
Use small electric pans or toaster ovens for small meals rather than your large stove or oven. A toaster oven uses a third to half as much energy as a full-sized oven. Use pressure cookers and microwave ovens whenever it is convenient to do so. They will save energy by significantly reducing cooking time.
Shorten cook times. When operating an electric oven, attempt to cook as much of the meal in it at one time as possible. Foods with different cooking temperatures can often be cooked simultaneously at one temperature-variation of 25 degrees in either direction still produce good results and save energy.
Preheat for five to eight minutes. When preheating an oven for baking, five to eight minutes should be sufficient. There is no need to preheat for broiling or roasting.
Clothes WashersWash in cold water. 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.
Adjust the water level for your load size.
Don't overload your machine. Overloading will consume more energy as the motor strains to move the excess clothing.
Fill it up. Clothes washers use about the same amount of energy regardless of the size of the load, so run full loads whenever possible.
Position the washing machine near the hot water tank if possible. Heat can be lost as the hot water travels between the tank and the washer.
Consider an upgrade. If your washer is over 10 years old, replacing it with a new ENERGY STAR qualified washer could save over $145 each year on your energy bills. Plus, you're wasting 18 gallons of water every time you wash with a non-ENERGY STAR qualified clothes washer.
Activate the high spin speed option. If your clothes washer has spin options, choose a high spin speed or the extended spin option to reduce the amount of remaining moisture in your clothes after washing. This decreases the amount of time it takes to dry your clothes.
Balance your loads before starting the cycle. A washer that consistently gets out of balance often wastes water and energy.
Leave the door open after use. Front-loading washers use airtight seals to prevent water from leaking while the machine is in use. When the machine is not in use, this seal can trap moisture in the machine and lead to mold. Leave the door ajar for an hour or two after use to allow moisture to evaporate.
Avoid the sanitary cycle. This super hot cycle, available on some models, increases energy use significantly. Only use it when absolutely necessary.
Clothes DryersIf your dryer has a setting for auto-dry, be sure to use it. You'll avoid wasting energy and over-drying, which can cause clothing shrinkage, generate static electricity and shorten the life of your clothes.
Clean the lint filter after every load to improve air circulation and avoid a potential fire hazard.
Use the cool-down cycle to allow your clothing to finish drying with the residual heat in the dryer.
Inspect and clean your dryer vent regularly to ensure it is not blocked. This will save energy and prevent a fire.
Make sure your washing machine has completed its cycle before you move the clothes into the dryer. Removing clothes that have not been spun completely may overload the dryer and cause it to malfunction.
Don't overload your dryer. Placing too many clothes in the dryer can double or triple drying time.
Consider air-drying clothes on clothes lines or drying racks.
Vectren does not endorse any particular product or wholesaler.