by Benjamin St. Peter
Here is a collection of energy-saving hints whose implementation would require only a modest effort. Using these ideas, the monthly electricity bill of my 3-person household went from $40 to $30.
- Water temperature in many households may be unnecessarily high. The temperature of most water heaters is controlled with a large dial on the front panel. 120ºF is the U.S. Department of Energy general recommendation.
- Hot water tanks are more efficient if insulated. To avoid wrapping and taping, slip-on blankets are available.
- There are times when water is heated unnecessarily. If those times are consistent, switching may be done with automatic timers. One application might be keeping the heater off while people sleep and turning it on 45 minutes before morning showers. A special property of water is that a substantial amount of heat flow is required to change its temperature. If the water heater is turned off after evening dishes, there should be enough warm water until bedtime.
- Refrigerator temperature in many households may be unnecessarily low. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, temperatures should be 5ºF for most freezers and 37ºF to 40ºF for the fresh food compartment.
- Filling empty space in a refrigerator with closed containers of water will decrease the amount of warm air which enters when the door opens.
- Heat exchange coils are less effective when dirty. If the coils aren’t mounted on the refrigerator’s rear face, they are mounted on the underside. It might be necessary to remove a panel from under the door to reach them for cleaning. If the coils are rear-mounted, ventilation may be improved by moving the refrigerator forward a few inches.