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Energy saving in the kitchen

Making simple changes can lower energy consumption

Making simple changes to how you use the white goods and machines that fill your kitchen can lower the energy consumption of your most heavily-used appliances and make your home life greener.

Washing machines

Average weekly energy used: 6KWH (five hours of machine use)*

People tend to under-load their washing machines. Since one large load will use less energy than two smaller ones, it is important to understand the quantity of clothing that equates to your machine's maximum capacity. Try weighing bags of clothes, until you can judge the amount by eye.

Washing at lower temperatures is perhaps the most recognised advice for laundry energy saving, as much of the electricity used by a washing machine is used to heat the water. As such, washing at 30°C instead of 40°C will use 40% less energy.

The temperature of the water used for rinsing makes no difference to the cleanliness of clothing and, therefore, cold settings are just fine for the job.

Modes like ‘Auto wash' - found on pricier models - can also aid you in your quest to be green, automatically detecting load sizes and adjusting the temperature and cycle lengths appropriately.

Similarly, ‘Sud-saving' mode will use the same water twice, great for two subsequent, lightly soiled loads.

Cycles and spin speeds will need to be manually set on older/lower priced models.

Try not to use too much washing powder either. This will save you money as well as protecting the planet from non-bio-degradable enzymes that can damage the environment, particularly aquatic life. Ecological, enzyme-free washing powders are now widely available.

Dishwashers

Average weekly energy used: 5.35 KWH (five machine uses)*

The advice for saving energy with dishwashers is very similar to that of washing machines: Think carefully about what temperatures and cycles to use, ensure that the appliance is fully loaded and that you don't go overboard with the detergent.

New, top-of-the-range dishwashers can also feature energy-intuitive technology. There are those that can automatically sense how dirty the drained water is in the machine, altering the cycle length appropriately. Short cycles should be used for everything but the dirtiest of dishes.

If possible, you should also choose a dishwasher that uses air-drying elements, which are more energy efficient than heat-drying ones.

Fridge freezers

Average weekly energy used: 78.5 KWH*

As fridge freezers are appliances that need to run 24/7, they are already built to be somewhat energy efficient. However, there are steps you can take to further decrease their environmental impact.

Firstly, try not to get over-excited and purchase a fridge freezer with more space than you actually need, since any wasted space incurs unnecessary energy expenditure. Conversely, overstocking is also detrimental, since the air needs to circulate.

The cooling agents used in your fridge freezer are also important. Natural gases are the best choice environmentally, with CFCs (Chlorofluorocarbons) allegedly a threat to the ozone layer and HFCs (Hydrofluorocarbons) linked to global warming.

The temperature of the freezer compartment should be kept at a constant -18 °C , since every degree below this increases energy expenditure by 5 per cent. This can be achieved by ensuring the seals are kept clean to keep the appliance airtight and opening the doors less. HomeEnergy.org found that door openings can account for 7% of total energy use of a stand-alone refrigerator.

John Lewis stocks a wide range of washing machines, dishwashers and fridge freezers (all of which are CFC-free and HFC-free), with energy consumption figures detailed in their product descriptions. It also provides a recycling service, taking away your old appliance when your new one is delivered.

* Average weekly energy usage and costs calculated using UK Power's online calculator.