Three Home Appliances that can Shrink your Electric Bill

The Drying Machine [EXPLORED]Electric bills are like opinions. Everybody has one, and not all of them are good. If you’re electric bill has skyrocketed these past few months, you may want to check your consumption and see if one of your appliances is out of whack, or maybe one member of your household sleeps with the lights and TV on.

In any event, your job as a consumer and earth defender is to lower your carbon footprint. To do this, you must be vigilant about your current crop of appliances and the ones you are currently in the market for if a replacement is in order. Usually, older models are less energy efficient when compared to the newer models, so it’s always a good idea to periodically upgrade your gear rather than call an appliance repair service to have it running again.

EnerGuide and Energy Star

Before we go to our top 3, let’s briefly touch on how EnerGuide and Energy Star can help you with your next purchase.

According to National Resources Canada, the EnerGuide Label must be placed by law on any new appliance manufactured in or imported to Canada. This label compares a product’s energy performance against others in its class. It helps Canadians save energy, reduce the impact on the environment and lower utility bills.

The Energy Star Symbol indicates that a product meets or exceeds high efficiency standards. So, if you’re in upgrade mode, here are the top 3 home appliances you should consider replacing to reduce your carbon footprint and make your home more eco-friendly. Choose the right one, and lower your monthly consumption for good.

The Electric Clothes Dryer

Electric Dryers are the largest power consumer in the home, typically consuming 946 kilowatt hours per year in a 2006 study by the government of Canada. Now this study may be old, but the message is still loud and clear: dryers consume a lot of juice. So, when choosing your next dryer, consider the newer models that use inverter technology or you can give natural gas dryers a chance.

The new models use inverter technology to power the heater, making these models super efficient. Natural gas dryers are also environmentally sound choices, but you’d have to pay for the initial installation costs. Always check the EnerGuide label to make an informed decision.

The Refrigerator

Our iceboxes are the 3rd largest power consumer among household appliances, consuming an average of about 694 kWh a year. As one of the few appliances that are ON for the whole year, getting an uber energy efficient refrigerator is a must for any household.

By far, the best ones in the market are the ones that use inverter technology. I can’t stress the importance of inverter tech. I have appliances that have inverter motors and my electric bill has been shrinking ever since. The premise here is these appliances cost more than the conventional ones, but they pay for themselves in a year or two because your consumption will be less, shrinking your electric bill in the process. Again, check the EnerGuide label for more details.

The Dishwasher

One of the most used appliances in any home, the dishwasher comes in at number three on our list of appliances that can shrink your monthly electric bill when you choose an energy efficient model. According to the NRC, dishwashers are the 5th most power hungry appliance in the home, because heating the water alone takes a whopping 80% of the power used to operate a dishwasher.

When choosing your next dishwasher, consider the heating element and the decibel rating. Also check if it’s rated by Energy Star. Troll the forums to see which ones are costly to maintain and which ones last for a long time. Some models also use twice the amount of water as compared to other models, so read the EnerGuide label and choose wisely.

The End

There you have it, 3 home appliances you should consider replacing if you feel they’re not performing as they should and if they’re guzzling power like a hungry hippo. There’s also a new study in the US that states the DVR and the cable TV box are among the top power consumers (2nd place) in the household because they’re always on. But let’s save that topic for next time.


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How to grow herbs inside your home

How to grow herbs insideRecently, I moved across the country. Instead of living in a home with a large backyard (complete with herb-filled raised garden bed), I live in a spacious third-floor apartment. While I have a small balcony, there really isn’t ample room out there for an herb garden. Plus, I like the idea of growing fresh herbs year-round. Growing herbs indoors seems like the way to go — especially since the last of the herbs I dried from my old home will run out soon.

Here’s my plan for planting an indoor herb garden:

Choose the right herbs

Some herbs grow better indoors than others. Some of the easiest herbs to grow indoors, and what I will start with, include:

  • Mint
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • Sage

You might notice that these are hardy herbs, and likely the very same herbs that tend to overrun your outdoor herb garden year after year. We always had oregano and thyme running wild in our garden bed.

Basil can work indoors, but it’s a little trickier. I’ve grown basil indoors in the past, so I know it’s possible. It’s just a little pickier than some of the other herbs when it comes to temperature.

While you can grow your indoor herb garden from seeds, I like to use starts (because I’m impatient). Figure out what is likely to work best for your situation and go from there.

Find a sunny window

One of the things I love about my apartment is that there is a lot of natural light. However, our location in the apartment building means that all of our windows face north and west. This makes things a little more difficult for me, since windows facing south often get more sun. However, the western windows should do the trick, as long as the herbs can get some direct sunlight in the afternoons. I can tell it will be difficult during the winter, but we’ll see if we can make it work.

While natural light is best for herbs, you might need to supplement with a grow light. There are a number of quality grow lights available that provide your herbs with the kind of light they need to thrive. You can buy lights ranging from $30 to more than $500. I plan to purchase a mid-range light that is highly portable for about $100. That way, if there isn’t enough sunlight, I can supplement with the grow light.

Remember to keep your herbs away from the glass of the window. Leaves that touch the glass can quickly wilt during the winter, since the temperature near the window will likely be colder during than other areas of the house. It’s especially important to keep basil away from the window. When we had basil, we moved the plant back away from the window at night during the winter so that it remained in its preferred temperature.

It’s also a good idea to move your herbs so that aren’t stuck beneath a heater. They will dry out quickly if hot air from a vent blows on them regularly. Make it a point to keep them well-watered, and away from the withering effect of dry air blowing on them.

Proper drainage

With a raised garden bed outside, it’s easy to ensure that the herbs have proper drainage. However, once you bring herbs into the house, drainage can become an issue, since the plants are kept in a pot, and natural drainage is unavailable. You need to make sure that you have drainage so the roots don’t rot. You also need to make sure that you have a way to keep the draining water from damaging whatever surface your plants sit on.

My favorite strategy is to buy pots that take drainage into account. These are pots that have two parts. The upper part has holes in the bottom so that excess water can drain. There is also a lower part that catches the drained water. As long as you don’t over-water your herbs, the moisture evaporates. These pots are set up so there is some aeration, as well as reducing the chance of rot.

Another possibility, if your pot doesn’t have holes in the bottom, is to line the bottom of the pot with two or three layers small stones of varying sizes so that it provides a little drainage within the pot.

With a little effort and planning, you can grow your herbs indoors, enjoying fresh flavor for your food, no matter the time of year.

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