How to save money by cleaning your appliances
Here’s the scoop. Any appliance in your home will guzzle more energy and work less efficiently when it’s dirty. Cleaning it will produce energy savings – and in many cases, a better-looking home!
Ready to clean up by, well, cleaning up? Read on for 5 ways to get neater, cheaper, and greener!
1 The fridge
A clean fridge keeps its cool much better than a dirty one. Clean the magnetic gasket (door seals) of your fridge and freezer compartments to ensure a tight seal. A dollar bill placed in the closed door should NOT slide out easily. If it does, have the seal fixed because cold air is escaping from your fridge – which means the unit has to work overtime to cool your food.
If frost develops in your freezer compartment, defrost it. (BTW: frost-free fridges use more energy to operate than manual-defrost models.) Icy buildup makes the compressor work extra hard, leading to greater energy use as well as increased wear and tear on the mechanism. Defrost anytime you see buildup over 5mm thick.
If your fridge model has condenser coils in the back, vacuum them off and wipe them down once a year. Dust buildup prevents them from working efficiently and they’ll gobble more electricity.
2 The oven and cooktop
Clean your oven and stovetop so cooking doesn’t eat up unnecessary amounts of electricity and gas:
Ovens work best when hot air circulates freely, so remove any old sheets of foil you may have left on the racks to catch drips or what have you. Clean the oven seal to make sure hot air isn’t escaping when you bake. Clean your stovetop burners and reflectors. A dirty reflector with a blackened surface absorbs heat, rather than effectively reflecting it back to the cooking pot or pan bottom. A shiny and reflective stovetop is an energy-efficient one.
After cleaning, check your stovetop cooking elements. A worn-out electric coil is an energy sucker, as is a miscalibrated gas flame. Electric elements should heat up quickly, while a gas flame should burn blue, not yellow. Otherwise, replacement or adjustment are needed.3 The microwave
Microwaves are energy stars in the kitchen, but even they lose efficiency when less than sparkling.
Wipe up spills and remove mystery crud from the microwave interior. Both absorb energy waves, decreasing the unit’s efficiency. To maximize efficiency, clean the inside walls, door and “turntable.”
4 Air conditioners and furnaces
Filters get clogged surprisingly quickly, particularly if you have pets. Clean your air conditioner and/or furnace filters every month. Dirty filters run less efficiently then clean ones, therefore using more energy.
TIP: Washable, reusable replacement filters are a better choice than disposables because there’s less waste. Also, given their one-time-only expenditure, reusables encourage frequent cleaning, since there’s no reason to try to save money by skimping on filter changes!
For this major appliance, the benefits of energy savings are compounded by a safety aspect.
Clean out the dryer lint trap after every dryer load. A spic-and-span filter helps your clothes dry faster, while a full one not only forces the machine to work harder and use more energy, – it’s a fire hazard, too. Clean the exhaust vent annually, for the same reason.
Want more energy-saving advice? Visit Natural Resources Canada for more round-the-house tips and tricks.