Kitchen appliances eat lots of energy, even when they are not in use but still plugged in. Technology has helped create refrigerators that consume much less energy than older models, but they still are far from green. And refrigerators are only one of many appliances in use in today's kitchen, from microwave and regular ovens to dishwashers, trash compactors, coffee makers, garbage disposers, toasters and blenders.
Average Energy Use--and Cost
The U.S. Department of Energy website (see "References" below) has a handy formula for measuring energy use. Take the wattage of the appliance--which is the maximum power drawn--and multiple by the number of hours the appliance is used each day. Then divide by 1,000 for daily kilowatt-hour consumption, the standard way energy use is measured. Multiply this number by the number of days you use the appliance during the year, and you'll arrive at an annual total.
To calculate the total, multiply the annual kilowatt hours for each appliance by your local utility's kilowatt hour rate.
Refrigerators are Special
Calculating a refrigerator's wattage can be tricky. Refrigerators are turned "on" continuously, but they cycle on and off around the clock to maintain the proper interior temperature. The Department of Energy suggests dividing the total time the refrigerator is plugged in by three to come up with a fairly accurate wattage total. This number can then be plugged into the formula above to figure out the annual kilowatt-hour total and the cost.
It's Turned Off--Or Is It?
Even when most appliances are turned off, they continue to eat a small amount of electricity. These "phantom loads" increase the appliance's energy consumption by a few watt-hours a day. The solution is simple for small appliances, such as a coffee maker: unplug the appliance after use, or plug it into a power strip with an on-off switch.
An appliance's wattage generally is listed on the bottom on a clearly marked label. The Department of Energy also has compiled a table of typical wattage totals for common household appliances (see "References" below). The following are wattages for some common kitchen appliances: Clock radio = 10 Coffee maker = 900--1,200 Ceiling Fans = 65--175 Dishwasher = 1,200--2,400 (using the drying feature boosts energy consumption) Microwave oven = 750--1,100 Refrigerator (frost-free, 16 cubic feet) = 725 Toaster = 800--1,400 Toaster oven = 1,225
Hints to Reduce Energy Consumption
Here are some helpful hints to reduce energy consumption of kitchen appliances, courtesy of Appliance.net and common sense: Use the smallest oven possible; if the toaster oven will heat up that quesadilla, don't use the big oven. Give the refrigerator some breathing room--at least 2 or 3 inches between the coils in the back and the wall, resulting in better air circulation and less stress on the coils. Run the dishwasher only when it's fully loaded. When leaving the kitchen, turn off the lights!
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