A BETTER PLACE TO LIVE... Three simple energy-saving tips

Want to save the Earth ... or maybe just Queen Anne? Where to begin. Seattle City Light wants to help you get started. Saving energy can help save the Earth.

These suggestions are simple and uncomplicated - some as easy as turning off lights when you leave a room or washing clothes in colder water.

Since 1977, Seattle City Light has been a leader in energy conservation, providing its citizens energy that comes from clean, renewable hydropower. But only so much water flows over our dams. And our region's energy needs continue to grow. We can all help by following a few simple guidelines:

Tip 1 - Now You're Cooking

About two-thirds of all new stoves and ovens purchased by Americans in the past few years were microwaves. In fact, more than half of all U.S. households now use microwaves. Here are a few simple tips about stoves and ovens:

* Microwaves use about 50 percent less energy than conventional ovens. They're most efficient for small portions or defrosting. For larger items such as turkeys, microwaving is least efficient.

* For soups and stews, crockpots are efficient.

* Pressure cookers are much more energy-efficient than regular ovens.

* When you open an oven door during cooking, you lose 25 to 50 degrees.

* Test the oven thermostat to assure it measures temperature accurately. There's a good chance it doesn't.

* Check the reflectors under your stovetop burners. The cleaner they are, the better they reflect heat. If you need new ones, buy quality. The best on the market can save as much as one-third of the energy used when cooking atop the stove.

* Check your oven door seal for cracks or tears. Even a small or gap allows considerable heat to escape. It also pays to keep the seal clean, for better heat retention.

From David Goldbeck's "The Smart Kitchen," a delightful volume of useful advice, here are a few of energy-saving tips for stove and range.

* If you use glass or ceramic baking dishes, you can lower the baking temperature 25 degrees, since these materials retain heat better than others.

* Use the right-size pan for the job. Flat bottoms are best, particularly for electric and smooth cooktops.

* Thaw frozen foods in the refrigerator first to reduce cooking time.

* Lining the oven with foil can reduce indoor air pollution by keeping the interior clean. Before doing this, however, check the manual so as not to interfere with the oven's operation.

* Clean self-cleaning ovens immediately after use to take advantage of residual heat. First clean off what you can by hand to hasten the process.

* Don't cook with the door open. This common practice is quite wasteful.

* Do not preheat longer than necessary - 10 minutes should be sufficient. Preheating is not necessary when broiling.

* Make sure stovetop electric coils are working properly. A worn element is a real power drain.

* Put a lid on it. Lids help retain heat and speed cooking times.

Tip 2 - Aerate Your Faucets

A simple device you attach to water faucets will save an amazing amount of water and hot-water energy. It's an energy-efficient faucet aerator. Home Energy magazine says we would save more than 250 million gallons of water a day if every American home installed faucet aerators.

* Normal faucet flow is three to five gallons per minute. Attaching an energy-efficient aerator reduces the flow by 50 percent. Although the flow is reduced, it'll seem stronger because air is mixed with the water as it leaves the tap.

* Installing energy-efficient aerators on kitchen and bathroom faucets will save hot water and cut water use by as much as 280 gallons a month for a typical family of four. That's more than 3,300 gallons a year for one family. If only 10,000 such families install energy-efficient aerators ... you do the math.

* Don't confuse energy-efficient faucet aerators with standard screen aerators, which do not reduce faucet flow rate. Ask your store clerk if you're unsure.

Installing an aerator is easy, even if you're all thumbs. The ends of most modern faucets unscrew, and that's where the aerator attaches. If you have questions, ask a plumber or local hardware store for help.

If you use a portable dishwasher in your kitchen, don't install an aerator on the kitchen faucet. The reduced flow may affect dishwasher performance.

Tip 3 - All Washed Up

* The average American home washing machine is used 416 times a year.

* Electric washers and dryers can consume as much as 25 percent of the electricity used at home, including hot water for the wash.

* As much as 90 percent of the energy consumed by washing machines heats the water.

* Reducing water temperature reduces energy consumption. These days, few fabrics need to be washed in hot water. With today's detergents, many lightly soiled clothes can come clean even in cold water. Cold-water washing saves energy.

* Conventional washing machines use about 15 percent of the water in homes that have them. Each wash cycle uses 32 to 59 gallons, as much as two showers.

* New-generation resource-efficient clothes washers save energy, water and wastewater, and save you money in the long run.

* Experiment with cold-water wash and rinse cycles. For most clothes, the results will be as good as hot-water wash/warm rinse, and you'll cut your energy use by half.

* Set the water level in the washing machine to suit the size of the load. You'll save both water and energy.

* Try washing at "delicate" instead of "regular." The motor won't work as hard.

For more energy tips go to: http://www.cityofseattle.net/light/conserve/tips/

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