1:5:10:365 EcoTip Blog

January 23, 2008

:023 Clean Fridge Coils

Suggested Review – :005, :019, :022

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet.

images-refrig.jpg  graphic source: www.hometips.com/content/refrigerators_ef.html

1:5:10:023 Tip: Yesterday you began monitoring your refrigerator for 24 hours to see how much electricity it uses. Today you should record the electric use and learn to clean the cooling coils. Once the coils have been cleaned you can see how much energy is saved by monitoring for another 24 hours. Manufactures and energy conservation experts are recommending the coils be cleaned twice a year. Even more often if you have indoor pets like dogs or cats since their hair tends to dirty up the coils faster. When the coils are dirty, heat builds up and more energy is used to keep your foods cold or frozen. The extra heat will also shorten the life of the refrigerator. Some estimates indicate that dirty coils can add up to $150 dollars a year to your energy bill. Spending ten minutes twice a year to clean the coils can really pay off. When I checked it with my energy use meter, I determined dirty coils would add an extra $3 dollars a month to my electric bill.

Record in your journal the energy use and let the monitor run for another day to see if it is fairly constant. While your cleaning the coils, it is a good time to also clean and check the condensate pan. Tomorrow I will tell you how.

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Additional Information

According to Whirlpool: “the cooling coils for your refrigerator and freezer look like thin tubes, sometimes with connecting fins like a radiator on your car. Some coils are mounted at the rear of the refrigerator. Other are located below the refrigerator, where a fan moves air across the coil. When you stand next to the refrigerator in the winter and feel a warm breeze at your feet, it means the condenser coil and fans are working.”

“If the exterior condenser coils become dirty, they are less efficient at transferring heat into the air around the refrigerator. To clean the coils, you can carefully vacuum them or remove stubborn dust with a condenser cleaning brush”.

 If your refrigerator has coils and a fan below the refrigerator, you will need to remove some access panels to reach the coils. We suggest that you follow the specific instructions for your refrigerator and unplug the unit before you attempt to clean the coils.”

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January 22, 2008

:022 Frige Energy Use

Suggested Review – :005, :019

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet.

illust_refrigerator.jpg

1:5:10:022 Tip: In comparison to other appliances the refrigerator uses more electricity – for example – five times as much as a typical television set, but of course the refrigerator must be kept operating 24/7. To find out your refrigerator’s energy use, plug it into your watt monitoring meter and let it run for 24 hours. Also check how many watts of electricity are being used when the door is open versus closed, and when the compressor is running versus off. If your door seal has a heater to prevent condensation at the door gasket, switch it on and check its electricity use as well as when the refrigerator is going through its defrost cycle – if you can catch it. Depending on your unit, it may be time to consider replacing it with a more energy efficient model.

Our refrigerator is about 5 years old and is using about 1.6 kilowatts per day. That’s not too bad considering an older energy hog model may use 5 or more kilowatts each day. At that rate, it may be time to buy a new refrigerator. But before you buy a new model, you will probably want to consider the 1:5:10:365 tips for the next few days.

Tomorrow we will find out how much energy our refrigerator can save by cleaning the cooling coils.

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Additional Information

Make sure you record your refrigerator’s kilowatt use in your journal.

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January 19, 2008

:019 Determine Watt Use

Suggested Review – :004, :005
kill-a-watt-j.jpg

1:5:10:019 Tip: Today you should familiarize yourself with using your watt use monitor. This is the device I encouraged you to purchase in :005.

Begin by plugging it into an outlet and plugging a standard lamp into the meter. Follow the instructions and try pressing the various buttons to see how it works. The digital readout should closely match the wattage of the light bulb. By pressing the “kilowatt hour/time” button once it should indicate the number of kilowatts used. Pressing the button again should indicate the time that has passed.

Try plugging a number of appliances into your meter and record in your journal how much power they use when they are both on and off in standby mode. For example my computer, monitor and printer use a total of 150 watts when they are on and 10 watts when in standby mode. This is pretty good compared to another computer, monitor and printer that use a combined total of 350 watts when on and 40 when in standby mode.

That 40 watts is the trickle current that is wasted energy. By turning this computer and it’s peripherals off any time it is not being used by flipping a power-strip switch, I could save about $80 a year.

I will be discussing many other ways to use your wattage monitoring meter in future 1:5:10:365 Tips. 

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Additional Information

The wattage monitoring meter is one of the fundamental tools for easily monitoring your electric use. If you haven’t already purchased one you can get it from Amazon. Right now it is selling for $20.98 plus shipping.

To purchase from Amazon (click here): Kill A Watt  (in the interest of full disclosure – I have signed up as an Amazon Associate. If you use this link to purchase a “Kill-a-Watt” I will receive a commission – I think it is 4%).

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January 5, 2008

:005 Determining individual appliance electric use

Suggested Review – :001, :002, :003, :004

kill-a-watt-j.jpg

1:5:10:005 Tip: Yesterday I talked about using your public utility electric meter to monitor energy use in your home to track hidden electricity use. If you would like to know how much energy a particular appliance is using, you can use yesterday’s technique to calculate this by turning the appliance on and re-timing the spinning dial, repeating the calculations and noting the difference. The extra electric use will be from the appliance that was turned on. This is the no-cost way to monitor the energy use for individual plug in items that operate off of 110 volts. This is obviously a real pain.

There is a very easy way to monitor energy use one appliance at a time by using an electric use monitor. 

These meters monitor electric use for any 110 volt electric plug in device. This one – the “Kill-a-Watt” retails for about $40.00 but can be found for under $25.00.
Tomorrow the 1:5:10 tips will head in a different direction for about two weeks, then we will come back and look at monitoring and reducing our electricity use by cutting down on the trickle current when the electrical appliance is in standby mode. The two weeks will give you a chance to purchase and receive an electric use monitor. If purchasing a meter isn’t an option you can also continue to use the meter method I described yesterday and today.
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Additional Information
One of the least expensive places I have found the “Kill-a-Watt” on line is Amazon. Right now it is selling for $20.98 plus shipping.

To purchase from Amazon (click here): Kill A Watt  (in the interest of full disclosure – I have signed up as an Amazon Associate. If you use this link to purchase a “Kill-a-Watt” I will receive a commission – I think it is 4%).

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Record the 1:5:10 time you spent. If you decide to purchase an electric use meter make sure to record the price you paid in your journal. Pretty soon we will be tracking expenses and savings, so you would consider this your first expense.

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