Here are a few tips to help you make ecofriendly choices involving household appliances that guarantee efficiency, reliability and savings. Start by looking for the ENERGY STAR symbol whenever you shop.

Refrigerators

Good habits

  • Don’t keep the fridge door open longer than you have to. Up to 30% of the cold air will get out when you open the door and it will continue to escape while it is open.
  • When dust and pet hair build up on the condenser coil behind the fridge, the compressor has to work extra hard and uses more electricity. Clean the condenser coil regularly, and make sure that air can circulate freely around it. You’ll make your fridge up to 30% more efficient.
  • Vacuum behind and under the fridge regularly.
  • A refrigerator motor produces heat, so leave enough space around your fridge for air to circulate freely. If heat is trapped, the cooling system has to work all out and use more electricity.
  • Don’t overload the shelves and door, because that reduces the air flow inside, making the fridge less efficient.
  • For maximum energy efficiency and to keep food as fresh as possible, set the temperature to between 1.7°C and 3.3°C (35°F and 38°F) in the fridge and to -18°C (0°F) in the freezer compartment. Keeping the temperature 5°C to 6°C lower than recommended can cause energy use to increase by up to 25%.
  • Make sure the door seal is clean and tight. When you close the door, the seal should be able to hold a sheet of paper in place. If it comes out easily, the seal needs to be replaced.
  • If you have an old fridge you are no longer using, unplug it or recycle it, because it is probably using more electricity than your newer one. Ask your municipality or regional county municipality where the nearest recycling centre is. If you want to get rid of a fridge that is less than 10 years old, some not-for-profit organizations pass appliances on to low-income households.
  • Place your refrigerator away from sources of heat and at least 5 to 7 cm (2 to 3 in.) away from the wall, so that air can circulate freely around it.

Buying a refrigerator

What you need to know

  • Standard-sized ENERGY STAR® certified refrigerators must be 9 to 10% more efficient than the minimum federal standard in Canada’s Energy Efficiency Regulations.
  • Refrigerators with a top freezer usually draw less power than those with a bottom freezer.

Freezers

Good habits

  • Try not to open the freezer door repeatedly.
  • Keep your freezer as full as possible, because that way it will stay colder and be more efficient.
  • Make sure the door seal is clean and tight. When you close the door, the seal should be able to hold a sheet of paper in place. If it comes out easily, the seal needs to be replaced.
  • Defrost the freezer thoroughly and clean the interior at least once a year.
  • Vacuum behind and under the freezer regularly.
  • Place your freezer away from sources of heat and at least 5 to 7 cm (2 to 3 in.) away from the wall, so that air can circulate freely around it.
  • It is recommended to put your freezer in a cool place to avoid overworking the compressor.
  • For maximum energy efficiency and to keep food safe, set the temperature of your freezer at -18°C (0°F). A temperature 5 or 6°C degrees lower than recommended may use up to 25% more electricity.

Buying a freezer

What you need to know

  • ENERGY STAR® certified freezers must be at least 10% more energy-efficient than Canada’s minimum regulated standard.
  • Chest freezers are generally more energy-efficient than upright models, since less cold air escapes when you open it. That’s because warm air tends to rise and the cold air tends to stay in the bottom of the chest freezer when you lift the lid.

Dishwashers

Good habits

  • Clean the filter near the bottom of your dishwasher regularly.
  • Don’t run it until it’s really full and use the shortest appropriate cycle.
  • Choose the air dry (no heat) drying cycle and use 15% to 50% less energy.
  • Choose the energy saver setting.
  • Some people think you have to rinse dishes before putting them in the dishwasher, but you don’t. Just scrape off any food scraps. You’ll save water and energy. But if you absolutely have to rinse the dishes, use cold water.

Buying a dishwasher

What you need to know

  • ENERGY STAR® certified dishwashers are 10% more efficient than other models. They must also exceed the minimum federal standard in Canada’s Energy Efficiency Regulations.
  • Give priority to these features: superior water filtration system, more powerful jets and innovative basket configuration.
  • Modern dishwashers also save water and energy thanks to shorter cycles, air dry options, soil sensors and built-in heating elements. You can’t do without them!

Clothes washers

Good habits

  • Wash your clothes in cold water, using a detergent meant for the purpose. Studies show that they’ll come out just as clean as those washed in hot water. Think about it! 80% to 90% of the energy used to wash clothes goes to heating water.
  • For very dirty laundry, soak the clothes instead of washing them twice.
  • It’s more energy efficient to run a washer when it is full, so make sure you purchase a model that is the right size for your family. Two small loads use twice as much energy as one full load.
  • If your model has a water level selector, set it correctly for each load.
  • If possible, install the washing machine near the water heater to reduce heat losses through the connecting pipes. Insulate all pipes and hoses, especially those near uninsulated walls.

Buying a clothes washer

What you need to know

  • ENERGY STAR® certified clothes washers are designed to use less water, energy and detergent. In addition, today’s washers remove more water during the spin cycle, ENERGY STAR certified clothes washers are standard size (i.e., have a minimum tub capacity of 45 L). The specification is currently set to make them up to 55% more efficient than Canada’s minimum energy performance standard. They must also use 35% to 50% less water than ENERGY STAR certified washers made before January 1, 2007.

Dryers

Good habits

  • If you put soaking wet clothes in your dryer, it has to work harder and it uses more electricity. Wring out your clothes first, either by hand or using your washer’s spin cycle.
  • Avoid running the dryer for small loads.
  • Whenever possible, dry light items and heavier items separately.
  • Start your next load as soon as the first load has finished, so the dryer doesn’t have time to cool down. You’ll save electricity.
  • Avoid overdrying: it uses more electricity, but it also wrinkles and shrinks clothes. The drying cycle should be 40 to 60 minutes.
  • Use the automatic shut-off, if there is one, instead of timed drying.
  • Choose medium or low heat, since the time saved with a higher setting will not offset the extra power required.
  • To save money and avoid wrinkling your clothes, use the “cool-down” cycle, which generally corresponds to the permanent press setting, and uses cool air for the last few minutes of the cycle.
  • Remember to clean out the lint filter every time you use your dryer.
  • Check that the flaps on all exhaust vents (clothes dryer, bathroom fans, range hood, etc.) are airtight and replace them if necessary.

Buying a dryer

What you need to know

Ranges

Good habits

  • Use the right size cookware. A pot should just cover the burner for maximum efficiency. With a larger pot, cooking takes longer. With a smaller pot, heat is lost to the air. Either way, you’re wasting energy. For example, if you are using a six-inch pot on an eight-inch burner, over 40% of your heat will be wasted.
  • Use only smooth, flat-bottomed cookware. Food cooks faster when pots make full contact with the cooking element.
  • Use pots and pans that are in good condition. A warped-bottom pot could take 50% more energy than a flat-bottomed one.
  • Covering pots and pans can mean using 8% to 14% less heat.
  • Keep drip pans under conventional coil burners clean. Replacing them with top quality new ones can reduce energy use by a third.
  • Remember that coil burners use more power than induction or halogen cooktops.
  • Keep oven door seals clean and tight. When you close the door, the seal should be able to hold a sheet of paper in place. If it comes out easily, the seal needs to be replaced.
  • Use minimal heat. Once water is boiling, choose the lowest setting required to maintain the boil. Food won’t cook any faster at a high boil.
  • Keep the oven door shut whenever possible. Every time it’s opened during use, as much as 20% of the heat escapes. Look through the window instead.
  • Use a stovetop burner, toaster oven or microwave rather than the regular oven to heat up small quantities of food.
  • Don’t preheat the oven for more than 10 minutes.
  • If your oven has a convection option, use it as often as possible. The hot air circulates, cutting cooking time by 30%.
  • Turn off your oven 10 or 15 minutes early and turn off your range burners 2 or 3 minutes early. The remaining heat will finish the job.
  • Preheat the oven only for baking. In other cases, preheating is a waste of energy.
  • Whenever possible, use a more energy-efficient appliance, like your toaster oven, microwave or electric kettle.
    • The most energy-efficient kitchen appliance is definitely the microwave oven, which uses only a third of the wattage of most ranges.
    • Using small appliances saves a significant amount of energy, while at the same time extending the life of your large appliances. So use a small one whenever you can: microwave, toaster oven, slow cooker, kettle or electric skillet.
    • Consult our toolbox to find out how much electricity is used by devices when they are turned off.

Did you know that an electric slow cooker uses up to 80% less energy than a range?

Buying a range

What you need to know

  • Today’s cooktops, ovens and ranges are about as energy-efficient as current technology allows. But you can make them more energy-efficient in various ways, such as by improving the seal on the oven door.
  • Look for a self-cleaning oven. They are often better insulated than regular ovens.
  • A cooktop with a powerful fan can push up your energy bill in winter, because the fan exhausts a lot of warm air and your heating system has to make up for the loss.

Water dispensers

Good habits

  • If you have a hot and cold water dispenser and use the hot water only occasionally, turn off the heating element. It takes four times more power to keep water hot as to keep it cold. You’ll save energy and money.
  • A hot and cold water dispenser that is not ENERGY STAR® certified typically uses 1,000 kWh a year, but only 100 kWh a year when the heating element is turned off. So you could save about $75 a year. And ENERGY STAR® certified models are 30% more efficient than those that aren’t.

Dehumidifiers

Good habits

  • Observe all manufacturer warnings regarding electrical safety.
    Make sure water doesn’t drain near electrical circuits or devices.
  • Make sure the dehumidifier is located away from walls and furniture, so that air can circulate freely around the unit.
    Dust and dirt can clog coils and grills.
  • If you use a hose to drain the dehumidifier’s water bucket, make sure to place the unit close to the floor drain or sump.
    A long hose could create a tripping hazard!
  • Close any doors and windows in the space being dehumidified.
    Humid air from outside may make your dehumidifier less efficient.
  • Set the relative humidity (RH) level at between 30% and 50%.
    In colder climates, RH of 30% to 40% is optimal.
  • Clean the dehumidifier regularly.
    Pay particular attention to the filter in order to maximize efficiency and eliminate bacteria as much as possible.
  • Clean coils by brushing the filter with a solution of bleach and water.
    That will eliminate mould.
  • If frost forms on the condenser coil, unplug the dehumidifier and defrost it before starting it up again.
    Running it when it’s cold could cause a mechanical failure.
  • Lower the relative humidity throughout the house to reduce the need for a dehumidifier.
    • Be sure all downspouts carry water away from the foundations and avoid overwatering plants next to the house.
    • Make sure the dryer exhausts to the outside and avoid air-drying laundry indoors.
    • Use fans in the bathroom and kitchen to eliminate humidity at the source.
    • Connect the humid room to the central ventilation and air-conditioning system to improve overall air flow and humidity levels.

Buying a dehumidifier

What you need to know

  • LOOK FOR THE ENERGY STAR® SYMBOL.
    Only the most efficient standard-sized dehumidifiers are ENERGY STAR® certified.
  • Check the energy factor (EF ).
    The higher the EF, the more energy-efficient the unit.
  • Opt for a built-in humidistat.
    This feature allows you to control the relative humidity (RH) in the room. RH refers to the amount of water vapor actually present in the air relative to the amount of water vapor the air can hold at that temperature.
  • Select the right type of dehumidifier for the space.
    If the temperature in the space in question regularly falls below 18°C (65°F), frost can form on the condensing coils. If that’s the case, buy a dehumidifier designed for use at lower temperatures and/or one that has an air-frost sensor, which turns the machine off automatically if the temperature drops below a certain point.
  • Choose the right capacity for the space.
    See the table below for guidelines.

Learn more on ENERGY STAR® certified products

Selecting a home dehumidifier

 46 m2 (500 sq.ft.) to be dehumidified
Damp1
6 L
Wet2
7 L
Very wet3
8 L
 93 m2 (1 000 sq.ft.) to be dehumidified
Damp1
8 L
Wet2
9 L
Very wet3
11 L
 139 m2 (1 500 sq.ft.) to be dehumidified
Damp1
10 L
Wet2
12 L
Very wet3
14 L
 186 m2 (2 000 sq.ft.) to be dehumidified
Damp1
12 L
Wet2
15 L
Very wet3
18 L
 232 m2 (2 500 sq.ft.) to be dehumidified
Damp1
15 L
Wet2
18 L
Very wet3
21 L
 279 m2 (3 000 sq.ft.) to be dehumidified
Damp1
18 L
Wet2
22 L
Very wet3
24 L
Area to be dehumidified Humidity conditions*(moisture accumulation per day)
Damp1 Wet2 Very wet3
46 m2 (500 sq.ft.) 6 L 7 L 8 L
93 m2 (1,000 sq.ft.) 8 L 9 L 11 L
139 m2 (1,500 sq.ft.) 10 L 12 L 14 L
186 m2 (2,000 sq.ft.) 12 L 15 L 18 L
232 m2 (2,500 sq.ft.) 15 L 18 L 21 L
279 m2 (3,000 sq.ft.) 18 L 22 L 24 L

* If dehumidifier capacity isn’t measured in metric units, remember: two pints equal about one litre.

¹ Space feels damp and has a musty odor, especially in humid weather. Damp spots may appear on walls and floor.

² Space feels and smells wet. Walls or floor sweat, or seepage is present.

³ Walls sweat and floor is almost always wet.

Buying a room air cleaner

What you need to know

  • LOOK FOR THE ENERGY STAR® SYMBOL.
    Only the most efficient standard-sized room air cleaners are ENERGY STAR® certified.
  • Consider a model with a high clean air delivery rate (CADR).
    CADR is a measure of the speed at which the unit delivers filtered air. The higher the CADR, the more quickly the unit filters the air.
  • Buy the right size room air cleaner.
    Consider the area (square metres or square footage) of the room in which the unit will be working. Larger models use more energy, so purchase one that is appropriately sized for the room.

Learn more on ENERGY STAR® certified products

Various products

Other good habits to develop

Use ventilation systems effectively: in the space of an hour, a range hood and bathroom fan can exhaust all the heated air in a house. So don’t leave them running unnecessarily.