Spring clean your kitchen – and your energy bill

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The change of seasons usually inspires a flurry of activity amongst home owners to start new projects around the house, or to do the infamous Spring Clean. And, whilst mostpeople will get out into the garden or do some jobs around the house, spring is also a great time to revive one of the most important rooms in your home – the kitchen.

A noisy fridge, a dirty stove top, and an oven that smokes every time you bake are not the components of an ideal kitchen (or the household energy bills).

It’s not about getting rid of everything old and breaking the bank with upgrades, it’s about showing some TLC to the appliances that aren’t performing as efficiently as they should be and making savings to your energy consumption.

Most major appliances are expected to be operational for at least ten years, with well maintained units performing their primary function for up to twenty years.

Food for thought when it comes to the fridge

Fridges and freezers are the biggest energy users in most kitchens. The cost of excess energy used by faulty refrigerators can really add up – in fact, when we measured energy consumption for one of our Origin customers the cost of wasted energy w as $1.63 per day – that’s around $600 a year![1]

  • It’s important to look after your fridge to ensure it is operating efficiently. Make sure you adjust thermostats to maintain the temperature between 2°C and 5°C in the fridge, and between -15°C and -18°C in the freezer.
  • Ice build-up of more than 6mm in your freezer can act as an insulator, hampering the cooling process, so make sure you check regularly and defrost if necessary.
  • Check whether your fridge requires maintenance. Manufacturers advise that refrigeration compressor units should only cycle on about 30% of the day, so if you have a fridge that sounds like it’s continually running, it’s time for a health check.
  • Faulty door seals can allow cold air to escape your fridge or freezer cabinet and make your fridge work too hard. Check seals by placing a piece of paper between the door and the seal and then pulling on the paper. If it moves easily, you need to replace the seals.
  • Check the age of your fridge. Refrigeration energy efficiency standards have improved the performance of units by 40% for units manufactured between 1993 and 2006, so if yours is older, then it might be more economical to buy a new one!

Avoid the dreaded ‘dish-duty’

Dishwashers are considered essential in many homes. Not only are they cheaper to use once a day than washing up by hand three times a day, they’re also likely to clean each load more quietly and efficiently.

However, not all dishwasher cycles are created equal. Dishwashers offer several programs and their energy rating labels are based on a ‘normal program’ with low wash temperatures, usually between 40˚C and 50˚C. Energy costs are currently between about twenty and thirty cents per load depending on your machine[2]. However, be mindful that for greasy and more heavily soiled items, the ‘pots and pans’ or ‘heavy cycle’ setting can heat wash water to temperatures between 55˚C and 75˚C, and have more rinse cycles with an energy cost per load between about forty-five and sixty cents[3].

To get the most bang for your buck:

  • Try and run your dishwasher at full capacity where possible. If it takes days to fill up, use the rinse cycle at least once a day which costs less than about two cents for most models[4].
  • Connect your dishwasher to cold water – it is cheaper to run than using hot water.

Switch off bench-top appliances

Smaller bench top appliances like electric kettles and toasters, and some larger ones such as blenders and food processors are relatively low-energy users due to their short operational times. However, remember to turn appliances like this off at the wall when not in use and be mindful of energy use (listed on the compliance plates) when making new purchases.

Be a cool cook!

Smart use of these appliances is all that’s needed to save energy:

Oven & cooktop-

  • Preheat your oven for no longer than 20 minutes
  • If you’re using a fan forced oven, reduce energy use by cooking on multiple levels simultaneously – that’s your spuds, your roast, your apple crumble, all in one!
  • Plan ahead and cook several freezer friendly meals at once
  • Don’t bake in grime – clean up fresh spills as soon as your oven has cooled
  • Try to keep the oven door completely closed until food is cooked. Every time the door is opened, the oven temperature drops by about 14° – 20°C
  • Replace the 50 W halogen lamps in your range hood with 6 Watt LED lamps
  • Keep your stovetop clean – spills can clog gas jets, creating an uneven flame
  • Be sure pots and pans completely cover hotplates to avoid wasting energy
  • It’s best to cook with lids on pots and pans. You’ll achieve better cooking results, including less evaporation, as well as reducing steam and cooking smells in the kitchen

Microwave-

  • Make sure you keep your microwave clean and ensure the inside table turns when operating (if designed to)
  • Turn the unit off at the wall when not in use to save on standby power

Overall, the key to reducing your energy costs is preparation and maintenance, rather than buying new gadgets. If you’re doing a spring clean of your existing kitchen appliances, make sure you get into the habit of regular checks and maintenance. When the time comes to buy new appliances, make sure you do your homework and buy products with high energy efficiency ratings – while they can cost more in the short term, they’ll be more economical in the long run.

For more energy efficient tips during spring or any other time of year, visit www.originenergy.com.au.

[1] Comparison of a faulty 500L unit, measured at a continuous power consumption of 300W (7.2 kWh per day) with an average MEPS 2005 compliant, 500 Litre fridge/freezer (1.37 kWh per day).  Electricity costed at 28¢ per kWh

[2] Variations between machine type (Front load, top load) and load capacity of machines listed as available from www.energyrating.gov.au Sept 2015

[3] Comparison of available data from the following machines:  Asko D5424Wh, Bosch SMS40M12AU, Miele G 4220 BRW, Dishlex DX301SK

[4] Comparison of available data from the following machines:  Asko D5424Wh, Bosch SMS40M12AU, Miele G 4220 BRW, Dishlex DX301SK

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