Simple tip: ONE way to make your dryer more efficient!

landry bsktAhh… laundry day.  It’s looming in the MGG household and it happens to be one of my least favorite of mom-duties. (I’m fine with the washing/drying part but I deeply dislike the putting-away part!)

Anyhow, I digress… so, today I just want to share one little tidbit about how to be a bit more energy efficient with the duty, aside from the long list of ways to green your laundry that I’ve shared in the past.

  • Fact:  The average American household spends $150 in energy consumption each year to simply dry their laundry.
  • Fact: ONE SIMPLE way to avoid 30% excess usage of energy – CLEAN YOUR LINT TRAP!

Yes, that’s it! That pesky, yet necessary, lint trap can actually dramatically increase the energy usage of your dryer.  The screen should be checked and cleaned after every load.

lnt trpYou should also occasionally “deep clean” the screen, the trap and the tubing.  Scrub the screen with a soft brush, mild soap and water (because there is build-up, I assure you, even if you’ve removed the fuzzy!).  Use your vacuum cleaner extension tool or long skinny brush to give a good cleaning inside the trap area.  And don’t forget the vent tube… remove it from the back of the dryer and clean out any lint or obstruction.  After you’ve done this, run the dryer on air fluff for about 10 minutes to clear out anything that remains.

You’ll be amazed at the decrease in drying time after you’ve done this simple task… and you will use less energy as a result.  Now, I’ll make you a deal… I’ll do the “task” if you do my laundry!

Simple tip: You don’t need an electric iron… ever.

wtr spray bttlSome people find comfort in ironing… I happen not to be one of those people. But who hasn’t pulled something out of a closet or drawer and thought “okay, if I wear this ‘as is’, someone will think I slept in it!”

Well, electric irons happen to use an extraordinary amount of energy to power, but I have a simple way to never plug-in an electric iron again… all you need is a simple sprayer bottle filled with water.

Depending on the garment or item all you need to do is the following:

  • Place the item on top of a flat surface, mist each side with water, smooth with your hands and give it about 15 minutes to dry. You can also hang the item and do the exact same.  On the fly, I’ve actually done this while WEARING the item!
  • For really stubborn wrinkles, saturate the area with water a bit more than a simple mist, smooth with your hands and give a bit more time to dry… and voila, goodbye wrinkles!
  • (For items that must be dry cleaned, remember these tips, but this will safely work even for dry cleaned items that get some wrinkles!)

Sure, it won’t save the planet, but truly, give it a try… it WILL save energy and you, too, may never plug-in another electric iron again!

Keep your home green while you vacation!

lampSometimes it’s easy to get so consumed with planning and preparing for a vacation that we forget about the home we’re leaving behind.

Before you leave, your house needs some special attention so it doesn’t continue to over-consume in your absence.  When you think about everything that’s drawing energy on a daily basis (and the things that an empty house doesn’t need), it’s time for a checklist.

Here are a few simple (and possibly overlooked) ideas to keep your home green while you vacation:

  • Turn off your air conditioning or, in the winter months, turn the heat to 55 degrees.
  • Make sure ceiling fans are turned off.fridge
  • Unplug nearly everything… computers, TVs, appliances, microwaves, lamps, coffee makers, all of it!  Look at every outlet in your house and most things can be unplugged in your absence.  They WILL still consume “phantom power” even when not in use!
  • Install timers on a few lights so your home still appears lived-in but they won’t glow 24-hours-a-day.
  • Dial down the temperature or switch off the breaker on your water heater.
  • If you clear out an overload of perishables in your refrigerator make sure it’s not too empty… you actually need some content to make it efficient.  If it’s looking a bit empty, just fill and cover a few large pitchers of water.

That’s all it takes.  A checklist and a little extra time and you can keep it green while you play away!

Simple refrigerator tip: Energy efficiency 1, 2, 3…

refrig opnWhile my family and I have been enjoying the weekly produce from our CSA, I have also made my fair share of refrigerator snafus over the weeks.  (Note to self: an overloaded fridge will freeze mustard greens and kaboko cabbage faster than you can SAY mustard greens and kaboko cabbage!)

Besides keeping the door closed as much as possible (unlike this photo!), here are three simple ways to keep it as energy efficient as possible:

  1. Keep it filled up but NOT overcrowded (yea, that freezing issue!) – if it starts to look a little empty, a few covered pitchers of water will do wonders.
  2. Cover EVERYTHING – anything that is uncovered will release moisture and make the refrigerator work overtime to keep the contents cold.
  3. “Give it some space” – while you might be tempted to buy the largest fridge on the planet, it truly needs about 2 inches of space on all sides for proper air circulation and you especially don’t want anything that “heats” (dishwasher, stove, oven, etc.) nearby because it again makes it work harder than it needs to.

There you have it… 1, 2, 3… may your refrigerator runneth over with healthy (unfrozen) produce!

One simple trick of home cooling efficiency…

air rtrnThis weekend’s weather in Cleveland was sweltering… fortunately we didn’t reach the magnitude of the forecast a few months ago but 89 degrees and tropical levels of humidity do not make for a comfortable home.

It became obvious that it was going to be a central air conditioning day (we were having family over and it wasn’t feeling very pleasant).  Well, as the story often goes… were we getting cold air? Oh, of course we weren’t.

We suffered through for a bit, and my husband even installed a new thermostat, but it was the wisdom of my father-in-law that taught us quite a lesson, and the answer came from this one simple question:

“Have you changed your filter lately?”

I’m embarrassed to say that we hadn’t… since “I don’t know when!”… so when we took a look, it was like something out of a horror film.  I can’t even imagine that air could have filtered through that thing, so it’s no wonder our house never cooled down… until we replaced it, and then we were cool and comfortable.air fltrs

The reason for the story?  Because one seemingly small oversight has caused us to be horribly energy INefficient.  That dirty filter slowed the flow of air and made the system work incredibly hard and, in turn, wasted energy. I’m sure it was doing the same thing to our furnace just a few months ago too.

The rule of thumb: replace it at least every three months, or more frequently in heavy usage months.

So there’s my confession, but the calendar is marked and I can now guarantee that Mom Goes Green will NOT miss the next replacement.