Energy Saving at Home

Appliances and Electronics

If you live in a typical U.S. home, your appliances and home electronics are responsible for about 20 percent of your energy bills and energy saving at home starts here. These appliances and electronics include everything from clothes washers and dryers, to computers, to water heaters and more. By shopping for appliances with the ENERGY STAR® label and turning off appliances when they're not in use, you can achieve real energy savings at home. And these energy saving tips will help you save even more.

Many appliances and electronic devices in your home today, both small and large, draw a small amount of power even while they are switched off. This "phantom" power drain comes from devices, like VCRs, televisions, stereos, computers, printers, kitchen appliances, clocks and clock radios, cell phone and portable music player chargers, etc. You may find that as much as three quarters of the electricity used to power these devices is consumed while the products are turned off. This can be avoided by unplugging the device when not in use.  Plug home electronics, such as TVs and DVD players, into power strips; turn the power strips off when the equipment is not in use – like at night (TVs and DVDs in standby mode still use several watts of power).

Energy Saving Tip # 1

Many appliances and electronic devices in your home today, both small and large, draw a small amount of power even while they are switched off. This "phantom" power drain comes from devices, like VCRs, televisions, stereos, computers, printers, kitchen appliances, clocks and clock radios, cell phone and portable music player chargers, etc. You may find that as much as three quarters of the electricity used to power these devices is consumed while the products are turned off. This can be avoided by unplugging the device when not in use.  Plug home electronics, such as TVs and DVD players, into power strips; turn the power strips off when the equipment is not in use – like at night (TVs and DVDs in standby mode still use several watts of power).

Energy Saving Tip # 2

Use energy saving air dry cycles on your dishwasher instead of the usual high heat drying cycle.  Better yet, wash dishes last thing at night and open the dishwasher door to let the dishes “air dry” overnight while you sleep – a real energy savings!.

Energy Saving Tip # 3

Always look for ENERGY STAR® rated appliances and electronics, and EnergyGuide labels when purchasing appliances and electronics. The ENERGY STAR® label says that the item meets U.S. government standards for energy efficiency, and the EnergyGuide label will give you an estimate of an appliance's total annual energy consumption – especially compared to other similar units.

Energy Saving Tip # 4

The lint filter in your dryer should be cleaned after EVERY load to maximize air circulation and drying efficiency.

Energy Saving Tip # 5

You may want to consider hanging clothes on clothes lines or drying racks to air-dry. This not only saves a great deal of energy, but also many fabric manufacturers recommend air drying for fabric durability.

Energy Saving Tip # 6

Use the moisture sensor in your dryer.  It will turn off the dryer as soon as the clothes are dry and save energy.

Energy Saving Tip # 7

Ready to move your clothes from the washer to drying?  Give each piece a good shake before putting them in the dryer or hanging them on a line.  This opens the fibers that were packed together in the spin cycle to allow air to pass through the fabric more quickly and easily and dry your clothes faster – it saves you money.

Energy Saving Tip # 8

When you dry your clothes, dry the lighter items separately from heavier towels.  The lighter items will dry faster and use less power, so you only need the longer drying time for the heavier items.

Energy Saving Tip # 9

The “cool-down” cycle in your clothes dryer will finish drying your clothes with the residual heat in the dryer – saves energy – and money.

Energy Saving Tip # 10

Normally you want to wash and dry full loads. If you must wash smaller loads, use reduced water-level settings to conserve water, especially hot water.

Energy Saving Tip # 11

Newer clothes dryers, especially Energy Star models, will feature a “moisture sensor” that automatically turns off the dryer as soon as clothes are dry.  This not only saves energy, but also “over-drying” wears out fabric sooner.  You save money two ways.

Energy Saving Tip # 12

You will find that purchasing a laptop for your next computer upgrade is a good choice as they use much less energy than regular desktop computers.

Energy Saving Tip # 13

Make sure the Power Management feature is turned on in your ENERGY STAR® computers and monitors so they use energy only when the unit is active.

Energy Saving Tip # 14

The ENERGY STAR® label on home appliances, electronics, and other products means that the unit meets strict energy conservation guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Energy Saving Tip # 15

Older appliances and motor driven devices do not have the most up to date energy conserving technologies.  Adding a power factor control device will cut the power consumed by the appliance's electric motor.

Energy Saving Tip # 16

To your list of monthly safety checks, add inspecting your dryer vent to make sure it is clear. This will save power and clears a possible fire hazard. Use metal dryer venting hoses.  The less expensive plastic version will dry out and crack filling the area with warm air and lint.  The metal style avoids these problems.

Energy Saving Tip # 17

Use the EnergyGuide when buying appliances.  Energy saving begins with informed consumers. Compare annual energy costs with the EnergyGuide stickers on appliances you are considering and buy wisely – you will save money and it is good for our earth.

Energy Saving Tip # 18

More and more studies show that using rechargeable batteries for many of the battery powered electronics you use saves money since you have to buy - and dispose of - fewer batteries.  Make sure that any throw-away batteries that you use are correctly disposed of – check with your local government and recycling agencies to see if there is a separate battery disposal facility in your area.

Energy Saving Tip # 19

Many people believe that screen savers will save energy used by computer monitors.  Not so. Use the automatic power saving modes on your monitor so it actually turns off when not in use – and then, at the end of the day – or when you will be away from your computer for an extended period, switch off power to the monitor so it does not consume the “phantom” power while are not using it.

Energy Saving Tip # 20

When you will be away from your computer for 20 minutes or more, turn off the monitor.  If you will be away for two or more hours, turn off both the monitor and the computer.

Energy Saving Tip # 21

Laptop computers use less energy than desktop computers, but if you leave them plugged in, they continue to draw power even after the battery is fully charged.  Unplug the power supply from the wall (or turn it off with a switchable power strip) when the computer’s battery is completely charged to save another “phantom” load on your electric bill.

Energy Saving Tip # 22

When batteries are fully charged, or when the chargers are not in use, unplug them.


My friend Rhonda Grice has a great site dedicated to helping people save time and money at home. Family projects and ideas along with how-to information on saving money on groceries, fuel, and other ways to have more money at the end of the month. You'll definitely want to take a look at her site.