It's the biggest appliance and not surprisingly, the biggest energy guzzler in most kitchens. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) refrigerators are responsible for one-fifth of the average household's total energy consumption. Follow these energy-saving tips to improve your refrigerator's performance:
Keep the thermostat at 36-38° F.
Check that seals are tight. Closed door should hold a dollar bill in place.
Keep freezer full. Cool hot foods before placing in fridge. Make sure air circulates freely around fridge: Keep the top free of clutter and coils free of dust.
If you're in the market for a new refrigerator consider one that is EPA EnergySTAR approved These appliances use 40 percent less electricity than a conventional model. The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy recommends refrigerators with the freezer on the top or bottom rather than side-by-side. The latter drains 10 to 30 percent more energy because of the freezer's greater surface area.
Energy tax credits
Did you know that tax credits are available for many types of home improvements including adding insulation, replacement windows, and certain high efficiency heating and cooling equipment? A tax credit can provide significant savings as it reduces the amount of income tax you have to pay.
The tax credits that you may receive for installing more energy-efficient products are as follows: $150 for a furnace/boiler; $300 for a water heater; up to $500 for insulation or storm doors; and up to $200 for storm windows. The maximum amount of homeowner credit for all improvements combined is $500 during the two-year period of the tax credit. Visit
www.irs.gov or www.energystar.gov for more information.
Recycling and composting
The U.S. generates 208 million tons of municipal solid waste each year, that's 4.3 pounds per person per day. Much of this waste can be diverted from the landfill through recycling and composting programs.
Find out which materials can be recycled and challenge your household to make sure those items don't get thrown into the garbage. When purchasing items, buy products housed in containers that can be recycled in your community. Also, support recycling markets by buying products made from recycled materials.
Visit www.flagstaff.az.gov/environment to get a list of acceptable recyclable items and glass drop off locations or take a free tour of Flagstaff's Materials Recovery Facility on the first Friday of every month from 3-4 p.m.
The Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) in Flagstaff is now accepting recyclable hard plastics that are numbered one through seven inside the recycling triangle usually found on the bottom of containers! (Previously, only No. 1 and No. 2 were accepted).
Some examples of each type of plastic are:
No. 1 PET (Polyethylene terephthalate): fizzy drink bottles, oven-ready meal trays and water bottles.
No. 2 HDPE (High-density polyethylene): milk bottles, detergent bottles, yogurt and margarine tubs.
No. 3 PVC (Polyvinyl chloride): vegetable oil bottles, loose-leaf binders, and construction products such as plastic pipes. (Plastic tubing, PVC pipe for example, should not exceed a length of 2' and needs to be cut down the center if possible).
No. 4 LDPE (Low-density polyethylene): squeezable bottles such as mustard and honey.
No. 5 PP (Polypropylene): ketchup bottles, medicine bottles and aerosol caps.
No. 6 PS (Polystyrene): compact disc jackets, aspirin bottles and plastic tableware such as plates and cups.
No. 7 Other: three- and five-gallon reusable water bottles, certain kinds of food containers, reusable plastic food storage products and plastic toys.
No plastic wrap, plastic bags or styrofoam items are accepted, regardless of whether they have recycling symbols on them or what number is inside the triangle.
Please limit plastic items to a size no larger than 18" x 18".