Other Applications

What can you tell me about the new front-loading washing machines?

Front-loaders have been in laundromats and in Europe for years. Their new appeal here in the United States is a result of their reduced use of water and energy.

A study done by the Department of Energy (DOE) in Bern, Kan., showed water consumption fell from 41.5 to 25.8 gallons per load with use of a front-load machine.

The study was done in Bern partly because it had a chronic water shortage and the DOE wanted to determine if switching to a new style of washer would help alleviate the water-shortage problem. Monthly water usage for the town dropped 50,000 gallons per month.

In addition, energy used to heat the water is also reduced. If water is heated with electricity, annual savings would be in the range of $15 to $25 per year.

Front-loading washers are more expensive. The three U.S.-manufactured washers start at about $700, about $200 more than the better top-loading washers.


What can the ENERGYGUIDE tell me about purchasing a new refrigerator?

The ENERGYGUIDE label for refrigerators shows the estimated annual cost of energy to operate the appliance.

The figure is based on the national average rate for electricity, or about 8.5 cents per kilowatt-hour.

If the electric rate is higher than this, the cost to operate the refrigerator will be more than the price on the label; if the cost of electricity is lower, then the operating costs will be lower as well.

When purchasing a new refrigerator, it may be advantageous to buy one that has a higher initial cost.

Once purchased, keep the refrigerator operating in top condition by vacuuming the coils on the backside or bottom once a year. The buildup of dirt reduces heat transfer and lowers efficiency.


What is the cost of operating a home computer system?

At the average Kansas electric rate of 7.9 cents per kilowatt hour (kwh), a personal home computer system consisting of a processor, video display monitor, and printer will cost about 1.2 cents per hour of operation.

The energy use of each of the components per hour is processor, 30 watts; video monitor, 45 watts; and printer, 75 watts.

Actual energy use will vary with the make and model of computer. A home computer system used eight hours a day, five days a week, would cost $2.11 a month to operate at 7.9 cents per kwh.

When buying a new computer system or component, look for the Energy Star logo, which indicates that energy-saving features have been incorporated into the design of the system or component.


What should I do with my humidifier during the summer?

Clean humidifiers and store them dry during the summer months.

If it is a room humidifier, simply drain the water.

Clean out scale with a mild detergent and inspect the media element and clean or replace it if necessary. The media element is the surface, such as a foam pad or metal grid, which is kept wet to allow for evaporation.

Always unplug the humidifier before cleaning. If storing a central humidifier, shut off the power and water to the unit. Wash any scale or debris from internal parts. Again, clean or replace the media element before using the humidifier next winter.