4 Ways to Keep Kitchen Appliance Vampires from Draining the Grid—and Your Wallet

If that summer electric bill has you swooning from sticker shock, it might be time to look at ways to make one of your home’s biggest energy hogs a bit more efficient. 

Yes, we’re talking about the hub for the hungry. The de facto spot for socializing. The epicenter of aromas and appliances. Your kitchen.

Aside from your HVAC system and water heater, the appliances in your kitchen are some of the biggest offenders when it comes to racking up kilowatts on the old meter each month. But rest easy, you don’t have to go out and spend thousands of dollars on a shiny, new set of energy-efficient appliances. (That said, if you’re looking for a way to spend that federal stimulus money, it might not be a bad idea to boost your Energy Star ratings.) After all, the cost of utilities is expected to jump for 1 in 3 Americans this summer due to the coronavirus pandemic pushing more people indoors.

If you’re wanting to go the more economical route—and we guess you probably are—Complete Electrical Solutions has some tips for saving a few pennies here and there. Keep in mind, adopting some of these practices probably won’t send your bill plummeting, but who doesn’t like to save a few bucks? Let’s round the roulette of our energy-saving recommendations.

1. Kitchens are notorious for having multiple electrical outlets and multiple appliances plugged into those outlets. Start by unplugging the ones you’re not using.

Coffee makers, toasters, blenders, and microwaves may be small, but they slurp up electricity when in use. They even pull on the grid—albeit minorly—when you’re not using them. If you’re curious exactly how much, consider buying a Kill A Watt meter and do the math. You might be surprised.

If you’re not keen on the idea of making the rounds to routinely plug and unplug your countertop appliances, we don’t blame you. If space allows, consider clustering your most-used appliances in one spot and be sure to consult your Complete Electrical Solutions electrician about what type of wall-mounted surge protector would handle the load and reduce phantom drain.

2. Your kitchen appliances do a lot of things, but choosing the right appliance for the job is a big part of being energy conscious.

Let’s say you’ve put up some moulding and a few errant nails are sticking out. You wouldn’t use a sledgehammer to drive them in; you’d use a trim hammer. The same applies in the kitchen. If you need to boil water for tea, consider using an electric countertop kettle instead of the stovetop. Fill it with hot water and only the amount you need.

Likewise, microwaves are a great alternative to firing up the oven. They may get a bad wrap with foodies, but they serve a purpose. Reheating a bite in your microwave requires less electricity than your oven. According to Energy Star, they use up to 80% less energy than conventional ovens. So the broiler might make that leftover pizza a bit crispier, but it’s going to take longer to heat up, use more energy and eventually show up in your bill. 

3. Now let’s talk about the stainless steel elephant in the room: your refrigerator. Some small tweaks and better habits can keep this kitchen colossus from becoming an energy sieve.

Here are three quick tips for keeping the granddaddy of energy guzzlers—about 1,000 watts an hour—operating efficiently:

  • Make sure your fridge isn’t right up against the wall. Air needs to be able to flow freely around the condenser coils. One to two inches of clearance should be enough.
  • It’s a temperature-controlled environment, so take control. Make sure your fridge is cooling at 37 to 40 degrees and your freezer is keeping it arctic at about zero degrees.
  • Keep your fridge and freezer stocked. More items mean less space for warm air to invade when you open the door. This one’s a real twofer—up your efficiency and never worry about having enough food to nosh on.

Want more fridge tips? Here’s a more extensive list.

4. Rediscover the lost art of air-drying your dishes.

Most modern dishwashers have an air-dry or energy saver mode that will use significantly less power than heat drying. By some estimates, heat drying may use as much as 15 percent more electric power. Shhhh. Hear that? That’s the sound of your money slowly swirling down the drain.

If your dishwasher doesn’t have an air-dry option, don’t fret—nature does. Your neighbors with the laundry line in their back yard have the right idea. When the wash cycle is complete, just prop the dishwasher door open and let the dishes drip dry. In the winter, you get the added effect of a humidifier. Win-win.

If you’re thinking about remodeling or rewiring your kitchen to improve energy efficiency or have any questions about whether your kitchen is up to code, Complete Electrical Solutions is happy to come out and take a look. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.