• Electrifying appliances for your kitchen

    Whether your oven and stovetop are powered by gas or electricity, it’s no secret that they consume more energy than smaller countertop appliances, like slow cookers and toaster ovens. In addition to improved efficiency, smaller kitchen appliances can also provide faster cooking times and less hassle with cleanup.

    If you’re looking for convenient cooking methods with the added bonus of energy savings, here are three electrifying appliances for your kitchen:

    1. Air fryers are becoming increasingly popular, and consumers have good things to say about these handy little appliances. Air fryers use convection to circulate hot air and cook the food––this means little to no oil is required, resulting in healthier meals than those prepared with traditional fryers. Air fryers are relatively small, so they won’t take up much of your counter space, and with everything cooked in the fryer, cleanup is a breeze. Air fryers are available in a variety of sizes, and prices range from $40 to more than $200.
    2. Electric griddles have certainly been around for a while, and they offer several benefits for any home chef (beyond bacon and eggs!). Griddles are convenient because you can cook everything at once––like a “one-pan” meal, and the menu possibilities are endless. From fajitas to sandwiches to French toast, griddles can help satisfy all taste buds. They consume small amounts of energy and provide quick cooking times, so your energy bill will thank you. Prices and sizes for griddles vary, but you can typically find one for about $30 at local retail stores.
    3. Pizza brings people together, so why not consider a pizza maker for your kitchen? These compact, countertop machines are an inexpensive alternative to a costly brick oven, and they use less energy than your traditional oven. Choose your own fresh ingredients to whip up a faster, healthier pizza at home. Plus, most pizza makers are multifunctional and can be used to cook flatbreads, frittatas, quesadillas and more. You can purchase a pizza maker for about $30 to more than $150 online or at your local retailer.

    These are just a few energy saving appliance options for your kitchen. Remember, when you’re cooking a smaller meal, countertop appliances can save time and energy.

  • A Clear Picture of Television Energy Usage

    The days are getting shorter and cooler, which will lead many of us to spend more time in the house watching our favorite shows or sporting events. A 2011 Nielson tv stand graphicreport found the average American household owns 2.5 televisions and 31 percent of us have four or more sets in our homes. According to the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), U.S. televisions use more than 46 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) annually, or about 4 percent of total residential power consumption.

    But which type of television is the best when it comes to energy use? The most common found in our living rooms are the traditional cathode-ray tube (CRT) sets, plasma, LED (Light Emitting Diode) and LCD (Liquid-Crystal Display). You might be shocked to find out that of these four, it is the CRT that is the energy hog— drawing more power per unit of screen area than the other three.

    Research conducted by E Source, an energy efficiency and technology company, in 2011 compared a 55-inch of each style for five hours in active, or “on,” mode. The CRT set used a staggering 400 watts (W) followed distantly by the plasma and LCD sets at 165 W and finally by the LED at 155 W. The data also revealed that the same televisions in standby mode (when the television is turned off, but still plugged in and drawing some power) for 19 hours a day, the CRT drew 8 W compared to the LCD drawing .4 W. And a 25-inch CRT used more power than a 35-inch LCD at 95 W and 65 W respectively.

    Many find this hard to believe, as it was plasma TVs having a reputation for being major energy drains. There was some justification to this in the past, when an average model drew more power than a CRT or LCD, but today’s plasma draws nearly the same power as a comparable LCD in sizes larger than 31 inches.

    Why the jump in efficiency? The increased manufacture of larger, flat screen televisions left the CRT to be, in essence, phased out of the commercial market when production ceased in 2007. This left plasma, LCD and LED models to follow many sets of revised energy standards set by Energy Star and state regulations.

    Another energy drain connected to our home’s TVs is the increased use of set-top box receivers. More than 80 percent of us subscribe to some form of pay television service with approximately 160 million set-top boxes (including DVRs), nearly all of which are owned and installed by cable, satellite or phone providers. NRDC found that in 2010, these boxes consumed 27 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity, or the equivalent of the annual output of nine average (500 MW) coal-fired power plants. They also noted that two-thirds of their annual energy usage occurs when people are not even watching or recording content.

    So what can you do to increase your TV’s energy efficiency? It may be a good idea to replace your CRT set for a more efficient model. Be sure to look for Energy Star ratings and read labels to estimate the annual energy consumption. If you already own an LCD TV, turn down the backlight in the television’s settings—you’ll save energy and still retain picture quality. Also, if you have TVs in multiple rooms and use a set-top box, consolidate to a multi-room model. And if your TV or box provides a power saver mode, use it or unplug both devices when you go out of town.