Reassess to use less

Tips for reducing energy use of major appliances

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Bronte Payne
Director, Go Solar Campaign

Author: Bronte Payne

Director, Go Solar Campaign

(617) 747-4327

Started on staff: 2015
B.A., cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, Kalamazoo College

Bronte directs Environment America’s solar energy programs and campaigns. Bronte has worked on successful campaigns to renew federal tax incentives for wind and solar energy and to move Cornell University and Boston University toward 100 percent renewable energy. Bronte grew up in Michigan and now lives in Boston, where she enjoys reading, biking and practicing yoga.

There is no question that major appliances make my life so much easier. As someone who used to go to the laundromat to wash my clothes, I am particularly grateful to have a washing machine in my apartment. 

These modern marvels certainly make daily needs like heating and cooling, washing your clothes and doing the dishes a lot easier. However they can consume a lot of energy. But fear not because most of us can find ways to use these conveniences more efficiently. 

Adjust the temperature

Earlier this year my water heater was replaced and when the new one was installed, the temperature was set as high as it could go. This meant the water not only reached scalding temperatures every time I did the dishes but the boiler was also using more energy than needed. Since then, I have adjusted the temperature downward. In most households, 120 degrees is sufficient to heat water. That temperature will save you money and energy compared to higher settings. 

Heating and cooling a home also requires a lot of energy. In the winter, set your thermostat to 68 degrees when you are home and a few degrees cooler when you are away or asleep. Personally, I set my house to about 65 degrees during the day and 62 degrees at night. I don’t have air conditioning at my apartment but if you do, you can reduce your energy use by allowing your home to get warmer when you are outside of the home and only turn your thermostat down when you’re in your house and you actually need to be cooled.

Change your washing habits 

Small changes to your washing habits can help reduce your energy use. One good practice is to wait until you have a completely full load when doing either dishes or laundry . 

Another pro tip when doing laundry is to wash your clothes in cold water. Heating water during a washing machine’s cycle is a huge energy suck. In fact, a washing machine spends 90 percent of its energy getting the water hot. When it comes to drying, sidestepping machines and line-drying or rack-drying your clothes is a great efficiency option. As a former college soccer player, my bonus tip is that line- or rack-drying your athletic clothes will save energy and keep them in better condition for longer by preserving the elastic!  

I don’t have a dishwasher, but this tip has been tested by my colleague, Emma Searson. When washing dishes in a dishwasher, skip the “heated dry” and simply open the door at the end of washing and your dishes will air-dry. 

Bronte Payne
Director, Go Solar Campaign

Author: Bronte Payne

Director, Go Solar Campaign

(617) 747-4327

Started on staff: 2015
B.A., cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, Kalamazoo College

Bronte directs Environment America’s solar energy programs and campaigns. Bronte has worked on successful campaigns to renew federal tax incentives for wind and solar energy and to move Cornell University and Boston University toward 100 percent renewable energy. Bronte grew up in Michigan and now lives in Boston, where she enjoys reading, biking and practicing yoga.