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If all refrigerators today were as efficient as the best available models, we could eliminate the need for the equivalent of 15 large 1000-megawatt nuclear power plants. When buying appliances, be sure to check the Energy Efficiency Rating (EER)’the higher the number, the better. Meanwhile, cut your electricity costs with the tips below ăthey offer ways to make any model more efficient.

Make sure the seals on the door of your refrigerator are airtight. To check, close the door over a dollar bill with half of it in the refrigerator and half of it outside; if it pulls out easily, your seal may need replacing.

Don’t let frost build up in your freezer — it increases the amount of energy needed to keep the engine running.

Keep your refrigerator away from heat-producing appliances — direct exposure to heat will make it work harder and use more energy.

Don’t store uncovered foods — they humidify the air and make the refrigerator work harder.

Clean the condenser coils in the back or bottom of your refrigerator at least once a year — a brush or a vacuum will do the job.

If your refrigerator and freezer are just 10° colder than necessary, your energy consumption goes up 25%. The refrigerator temperature should be 38°, 42°F and the freezer 0°, 5°F.

Avoid using appliances during peak hours: from 11 am to 5 pm on summer weekdays, 5 pm to 8 pm on winter weekdays.

If your oven has a pilot light, make sure it is burning in a blue, cone-shaped flame. A yellow "jumping" flame is burning inefficiently. To stop losing gas, get your oven serviced.

Keep the oven door shut —peeking lowers the temperature by 25 to 50 degrees.

Check the seal on your oven door —even a small tear or gap lets a lot of heat escape.

Use hand lawn and garden tools whenever possible. Keep electrical tools clean and cutting edges sharp — a dull blade takes longer to cut and uses more energy.

Experiment with cold water wash and rinse cycles —you’ll cut your energy use by half.

Clean the lint filter in your dryer after each use. That lets the air circulate efficiently to dry your clothes more quickly.

Hang drapes to provide additional insulation. Close drapes to keep warm air in during the cold season and cool air from warming up in warmer weather. Open drapes to let the rays from the sun warm a chilly room.

Keep your refrigerator full. It takes less energy to cool a full refrigerator or freezer than an empty one as long as it is not so full that air cannot circulate. Fill extra space with jugs of water in the back of both freezers and refrigerators. Use the ice in coolers and drink the cold water.

Only open the refrigerator or freezer when you need to. Every time you open the door, warm air enters the refrigerator or freezer. More energy must be spent to cool it back down. When cooking, get out all the refrigerated or frozen items you need at the same time. Put them back at the same time too, and you will use less energy.

Do not put hot food directly inside the refrigerator or freezer. It takes more energy to cool down the food. Let it cool naturally, first and you will save energy.

Defrost food in the refrigerator. Not only will you avoid the spoiling of food by not leaving it out, but you will also keep the temperature down in the refrigerator as it thaws. Place the food in the refrigerator 24 hours before you need it thawed and you can save energy.

Use microwaves to cook meals. A microwave can cook small and medium meals more efficiently than an oven or stove. Follow recipes for suggested cooking times and do not overcook.

Use the appropriate sized pan when cooking on the stovetop. Pans with flat bottoms heat more efficiently than those without. If you are using a small pan, use a smaller burner.

Do not over-dry clothes in the dryer. Use air-dry cycles on light loads and hang clothes outside to dry in the summer if possible. Not only will you save energy, but also your clothes will last longer.

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