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The kitchen is without doubt where the heaviest use of appliances takes place. The average kitchen has a whole host of electricity utilising appliances that are in use pretty much every day if not 24/7.
With a fridge freezer alone accounting for up to 5% of an annual electricity bill, we’re going to take a quick look at how to use your appliances as efficiently as possible and how much you can save by doing so.
Energy performance label
The majority of household appliances you buy will have an energy performance label. This details how energy efficient your appliance is. The important bit from a cost perspective is its kWh/annum rating which will be stated in numbers. You can use this to work out approximately how much your appliance will cost to run per year. All you need to do it, is to multiply the kWh/annum figure by the average cost of each kWh. For something like a fridge freezer where it is on permanently this is relatively simple to work out for example;
The average price per kWh in the UK is 14.37p. A small single width double height fridge freezer has a typical kWh/annum figure of 150.
150 x 14.37= £21.55
For appliances which are used infrequently or for shorter periods such as washing machines, you may think it would be a little more complicated; however the kWh/annum figure quoted on the energy label has factored in average usage. Obviously if you use your appliance more or less then this will affect the cost.
The second thing to look at is the energy class; this is the letters A to G. The idea of this is to give you an over view of the appliances energy rating at a glance, A being the most efficient, G being the least. Since the introduction of this label however, efficiencies have increased to the point where they exceed the A rating leading to the introduction of A+, A++ and A+++ ratings. Because of this by 2024 the label is being re-scaled to remove the + ratings. These days it is impossible to buy a new appliance with a rating less than A.
There are several factors that affect how efficient your fridge freezer is once it’s up and running. Firstly, keep it defrosted! Keep the build up of ice inside the freezer to a minimum; this will help it operate as efficiently as possible. If the ice is over a quarter of an inch thick (approx 6.5mm) it is time to defrost it. Although ice is cold it will act as insulator causing your freezer to work harder to provide the same temperature. You should also position your fridge freezer according to the manufacturer’s instructions, paying particular attention to any air gaps required, this will again ensure that your freezer is able to operate as efficiently as possible.
Using your washing machine in a different manner to how you may do currently is one of the easier ways to cut back on energy usage. Changing to a 30°C was from a 40°C uses up to 40% less electricity over a 12 month period. Obviously some items of clothing may need a hotter wash if particularly heavily soiled, but on your typical day to day was the higher temperatures are wasted. Make sure you follow the loading instructions as much as possible, run the machine fully loaded as much as possible rather than several smaller washes. It is however worth doing the occasional hot wash as this will kill off any bacteria that your machine may be harbouring.
Tumble dryers are one of the biggest energy hogs in your home, the average cost of running a tumble dryer per year is £67. You can however cut this down a lot by choosing a new tumble dryer carefully; going for one with the highest rated efficiency label you can find it can cut the average cost by two thirds. Clean the filter every time you use the machine, hot air is drawn through this filter trapping any dust and lint particles, if the hot air can’t circulate because of a blocked filter the machine will have to work harder to compensate. One of the easiest ways to make more efficient use of your tumble dryer doesn’t actually involve the dryer at all, if your washing machine has a fast spin setting, using this before transferring your clothes to the dryer. This will mean having to have your dryer running for less time.
Cooker and ovens
Whether you have a gas or electric or dual fuel cooker, there are several methods to operate them more efficiently that they all have in common. The first, and probably most obvious, efficiency method is that once the oven is up to temperature, you should open the door for as short a time as possible, leaving the door open for more than ten seconds can cause the temperature inside the oven to drop by over 30°C.
When pre-heating the oven, if you have roasting trays or grills inside that you are not going to be using, remove them, it takes a lot of heat energy to bring these up to temperature. If roasting something in a metal tin, wherever possible use a glass or ceramic one instead. These maintain the heat more efficiently than metal.
When boiling something on the hob, pre boil the water in a kettle first, this is more efficient than boiling the water from scratch on the hob. Also make sure you only use the amount of water you need, otherwise you will be wasting energy heating up water for no purpose.
Of all the appliances in the kitchen choosing the correct oven for your needs is probably the most important from an energy efficiency point of use. If you have a large household then a large oven will make sense, if you have a smaller household, heating up the larger oven is going to cost you more for no benefit to yourself.
Kettles, Microwaves and other things to think about
With Kettles it is difficult to make them any more efficient than they already are, the way you use it is going to have a bigger effect than anything else. Don’t overfill your kettle, this may sound obvious but it’s the simplest and easiest way of saving energy. Many modern kettles come with a minimum fill line that is also perfect for making one cup of tea. The second thing that you can do with your kettle is ensure that is de-scaled regularly. A build up of lime scale inside your kettle will mean it has to work harder to heat up the same amount of water.
Microwaves can be more efficient when cooking certain types of food. When cooking vegetables for example steaming them in the microwave uses 40% less energy than doing the equivalent task on an electric hob. This is an extreme example, but in general the microwave is more efficient. Where it falls down though is the lack of flexibility when cooking dishes compared to a traditional oven.
Slow cookers are easily the most efficient way of cooking food. A modern slow cooker left on over the course of the day will use only as much energy as a 40W light bulb.
Despite the ongoing issues with the smart meter roll out, they can be useful for the homeowner to identify what their least efficient appliances are. Even if you have a first generation smart meter and change supplier therefore losing the connectivity, it will still be able to display how much energy you are using at any one time, this will help you identify any bad habits that may be costing you money.
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