MNN Galleries

Eco-friendly home guide

By: Catie Leary on Aug. 27, 2010, 11:37 a.m.

Photo: JupiterImages

14 of 16


Appliances account for about 17% of your household’s energy consumption, with refrigerators, clothes washers and clothes dryers at the top of the consumption list. When you’re shopping for appliances, think of two price tags. The first one covers the purchase price — think of it as a down payment. The second price tag is the cost of operating the appliance during its lifetime. You’ll be paying on that second price tag every month with your utility bill for the next 10 to 20 years, depending on the appliance.


Look for a refrigerator with automatic moisture control. Models with this feature have been engineered to prevent moisture accumulation on the cabinet exterior without the addition of a heater. Don’t keep your refrigerator or freezer too cold. Recommended temperatures are 37° to 40°F for the fresh food compartment of the refrigerator and 5°F for the freezer section.


Most of the energy used by a dishwasher is for water heating. Check the manual that came with your dishwasher for the manufacturer’s recommendations on water temperature; many have internal heating elements that allow you to set the water heater in your home to a lower temperature (120°F). Be sure your dishwasher is full, but not overloaded, when you run it. Avoid using the “rinse hold” on your machine for just a few soiled dishes. It uses 3 to 7 gallons of hot water each time you use it. Let your dishes air dry; if you don’t have an automatic air-dry switch, turn off the control knob after the final rinse and prop the door open slightly so the dishes will dry faster.