Save energy: tips to save electricity, water, oil and gas

Energy prices are exploding. Saving energy now saves money – and reduces the carbon footprint. If you are well informed, you don’t have to flip many switches, but only particularly important ones. Here you can find out how to save electricity, water and heat.

Energy prices in many European countries are at record levels. Heating oil has risen in price by 75 percent within a year, natural gas prices have increased by around 6 percent and electricity prices by 2 percent.

The reasons, among others: Demand for crude oil, which is rebounding strongly around the world, and the new CO2 tax. Since the beginning of the year, approx. pay 25 euros per ton of carbon dioxide produced by burning diesel, gasoline, heating oil and natural gas. This has a direct impact on consumer prices.

Saving energy suddenly appears in a different light under these circumstances. And all of a sudden it has less to do with personal sacrifice, unnecessary stinginess or a hundred and one building regulations, and more to do with (also economic) common sense. And, of course, with consideration for future generations. Because: Almost all energy-saving measures are also reflected in reduced CO2 emissions.

Sounds exhausting? Must not. oKO-TEST gives numerous tips on how you can check the energy consumption in your household step by step and reduce it permanently.

Energy saving tips: Overview

  • Saving energy in the kitchen
  • Saving electricity and water with the dishwasher
  • When cooking and baking
  • With refrigerator and freezer
  • Saving energy with washing machines and dryers
  • Through proper ventilation
  • Saving electricity for lighting and illumination
  • Through correct heating
  • Saving energy on the computer
  • Saving energy on TVs and consoles

In this guide you will find numerous energy saving tips from very different areas of life and work. There are almost everywhere possibilities to use less electricity, water, oil, gas or heat. Some of the energy-saving tips are quite inexpensive to implement, and some are even free of charge – as long as you are prepared to adapt your habits a little.

By the way, in many cases, saving energy pays off amazingly quickly in financial terms. A new heating pump, for example, saves between 350 and 500 kWh of electricity per year in a single-family home – and thus up to 150 euros in electricity costs. So the replacement is already paid for after two to four years. Tenant households also benefit, for example from energy-efficient (re)electrical appliances.

Saving energy in the kitchen

The Kitchen is often the room in the house or apartment that has the highest energy demand has. Numerous appliances work here, some of which are in operation around the clock. No wonder there is a lot to save. We go through the heart of the house and found after savings potential.

Saving electricity and water with the dishwasher

Today’s Dishwashers use water and heat more sparingly than is possible by hand. The savings effect can be increased if you only switch on the dishwasher when it is fully loaded and use the Eco mode. The environmentally friendly rinse cycle takes longer, but saves energy because the water is not heated as much in economy mode. Pre-rinsing is also mostly unnecessary.

And: Most dishwashers can be connected to the hot water line. This reduces electricity consumption for water heating. The prerequisite is that the hot water comes from a newer central heating or solar system. Short pipe runs are important – hot water should flow after one liter at the latest. If this is not the case, the adjustment is hardly worthwhile.

You can also find many more energy-saving tips about the dishwasher in: 10 dishwasher mistakes you should avoid making

Saving energy in cooking and baking

The ranking of energy-saving stoves Is in descending order: gas, induction, ceramic, cast steel. Hot air ovens are more economical than those with only top and bottom heat. The EU efficiency label is also available for this appliance class – nevertheless you should pay attention to the absolute consumption.

You can also save some energy every day by using your kitchen appliances prudently. Some tips:

  • The residual heat of hotplates lasts for a few minutes, which is why you can often turn off the power before the end of the cooking time.
  • Pressure cookers save energy – and protect vita-mine.
  • Kettles almost always heat water faster and more economically, especially when there is only as much water in them as is needed.
  • Pots should fit the diameter of the plate.
  • Preheat the oven only when necessary; open the oven door as seldom as possible.

Reduce energy consumption with Cooling unitsn

There Refrigerator and freezer run around the clock and 365 days a year, they are a fat item in the electricity budget. Ask yourself therefore: Does it really need the freezer in the cellar still?

When buying a new appliance, look for the best possible energy efficiency class available for your budget. Important to know: The highest efficiency class Since March 2021, refrigerators have again had to comply with the the dark green A. This is due to an EU-wide reclassification of energy labels, which now also affects televisions and monitors, dishwashers, washing machines, and lamps and lights. Other product groups such as dryers, vacuum cleaners or ovens are also to be reclassified by 2026.

Yesterday Efficiency class A+++, today already C

This means that what is class B today can be much more efficient than what was A+++ just a few months ago. Therefore, do not let yourself be misled in the trade by a supposedly "second-class" product Evaluation confuse, but compare in doubt the concrete consumption values of different devices. Tip: On the online platform EcoTopTen of the Freiburg oko-Institut you can independently compare the energy consumption of many large and small new appliances.

Remember also that it is almost always worthwhile to invest a few euros more in a more energy-efficient appliance, because the extra cost is quickly recouped. An energy-efficient refrigerator can save about 70 Euro per year – so the investment in more energy efficiency turns into financial gain after some time. And: The climate is also happy.

More eco-tips for buying economical electrical appliances can also be found in our comprehensive guide to electrical waste.

Save energy: Here’s how your refrigerators use less electricity

A role for the energy consumption play also Location and Cooling unit temperature. If the ambient temperature of a refrigerator drops by one degree, it consumes six percent less electricity. Badly stands the refrigerator thus beside the stove or in very sunny places.

At Inside the refrigerator itself seven, eight degrees are sufficient, for freezers minus 18 degrees. Especially with older devices, a refrigerator thermometer is worthwhile to check, because the internal regulation often no longer works reliably. Read also: Refrigerator temperature: The right setting for food, wallet& Climate

Further energy saving tips around refrigerators and freezers:

  • Close refrigerator doors as quickly as possible.
  • Let cooked food cool down first, then put it in the refrigerator.
  • Frozen food can be defrosted in the refrigerator with foresight.
  • Clear out, clean and switch off the refrigerator during long absences.
  • If you keep the freezer tidy, you have to search less and use less electricity. In addition, less moisture gets into the interior of the refrigerator, which causes the cabinet or chest to ice up more quickly.
  • By the way: Defrost freezers regularly – just five millimeters of ice increase the power consumption of a refrigerator by about 30 percent. The reason: the appliance must cool through the ice layer, so to speak, to reach the desired internal temperature. It’s no wonder that energy is lost unnecessarily – after all, it’s not the ice that should be kept frozen in the refrigerator, it’s the food that should be kept frozen.
  • For very old refrigerators, measure the power consumption over a period of time and consider replacing it completely with a modern, extremely economical unit.

Saving energy in the home

Also in Bedroom, living room and Bathroom water, electricity and heat can be saved. Each measure not only benefits your wallet, but also your carbon footprint – a reason to be doubly satisfied.

Saving energy when washing and drying

Only a few Washing machines have a hot water connection or a ballast unit that can be used to supply them with preheated water. This is worthwhile if a solar system, heat pump or efficient heating system provides the hot water quickly. The advantage: the machine no longer has to heat the water itself, which can be less energy efficient.

At Tumble dry clothes is valid: Heat pump dryers are clearly more economical than the so far often usual condensate or exhaust air dryers.

How to save energy when washing:

  • Wash with the machine full, if possible, but not clogged up.
  • Often 30 or 40 degrees washing temperature is sufficient.
  • Pre-washing is usually unnecessary.
  • Eco-programs increase washing time, but – as with dishwashers – use less water and electricity. Read also: Eco mode of the washing machine: Really good for your wallet and the environment?
  • For higher hygiene requirements, 60 or 90 degrees is right; every few months, however, a 90-degree wash cycle also eliminates germs in the machine. Read also: What to do if the washing machine stinks? The best home remedies
  • Let laundry dry on a clothes horse, preferably outdoors.

Saving energy through proper ventilation

Ventilate with the window tilted consumes a particularly large amount of energy during the heating season, because the exchange of air is slow and the room cools down. However, shock ventilation is effective: open all windows simultaneously for a few minutes three to four times a day. During ventilation, turn the thermostat on the heater to zero.

In windy conditions and temperatures around freezing, three to five minutes are sufficient; in calm, warmer weather, 10 to 15 minutes are necessary to get moisture and stale air out of the room. In summer, ventilation can be as desired, except in the basement. Windows should be kept closed in warm, humid weather, as condensation promotes mold growth.

Ventilate sufficiently, regularly and generously. Incorrect economy can lead to problems – such as the CO2 content becoming too high, which impairs concentration and can lead to headaches. Regular, proper airing, on the other hand, also protects against mildew. A hygrometer, which measures the humidity, helps to recognize that airing is needed. Around 40 to 50 percent relative humidity is ideal, or even less in winter in old buildings that are prone to mold.

Ventilation units with heat recovery can significantly reduce heat loss during ventilation in new or renovated houses. A specialist company should be consulted for this.

Saving energy with light and lighting

The Lighting accounts for around eight percent of the electricity bill. False economy through gloomy rooms is, however, inappropriate and can even lead to health problems and depression in the long term. Therefore, do not save on brightness, but on the way it is generated.

If you still have energy-saving lamps or even incandescent bulbs in operation that burn for more than one hour a day, you should replace them immediately with an LED lamp. You will notice the difference on your next electricity bill – and that at an investment cost of only a few euros per new LED lamp. In addition, good LED lamps can withstand a large number of switching operations. Also good to know: Lamps with a warm white light spectrum or with a yellow-tinted glass body have a lower proportion of blue light, which according to various studies can cause sleep disorders. Also interesting: Light therapy helps against winter blues

Other tips: Brightly painted and furnished rooms and large windows for plenty of daylight also reduce energy requirements. And of course, the classic: always turn off the lights when they are not needed ..

Save heating costs by Climate-friendly heating

When Heating applies: every degree less saves six percent on heating costs; 20 degrees Celsius in the living room, 18 in the bedroom and 22 in the bathroom are often sufficient. 20 degrees corresponds to about level 3 on the thermostat valve – read also: How to read the numbers on the radiator thermostat correctly.

Many old thermostatic valves regulate the temperature only inaccurately, here a replacement can help. Electronic thermostatic valves regulate the heating time automatically, for example in the bathroom. If you rarely use larger rooms or are away from home for long periods during the day, you can save energy by using an electronic room control system that regulates several thermostats simultaneously. This can be a complete control system for the apartment or an inexpensive individual solution.

Night setback: At night, you can lower the room temperature by three to five degrees. This can be done automatically with most heating controls. There is hardly any point in lowering the temperature more – especially in old houses, as it costs more energy to warm up the cooled walls again.

Saving electricity with electrical appliances

Saving electricity with televisions and game consoles

LED television are now standard and significantly more economical than old tube devices. However, their power consumption increases with the size of the screen. A giant TV therefore cancels out the savings effect – the so-called rebound effect.

True power guzzlers are also older Game consoles. It is also worth checking older stereo systems, satellite receivers, video or hard disk recorders with an electricity meter. So it can quickly turn out that the ongoing (stand-by) operation costs as much per year as the purchase of a newer, more energy-efficient appliance.

Only appliances built in 2010 or later have a standby consumption of less than one watt; this has since been stipulated by the EU. It is therefore best to disconnect older devices from the mains completely when you are not using them.

Switchable power strips or automatic power savers help to switch them off. Small electrical appliances also make their presence felt. So: unplug chargers and power supplies when they are not needed.

Saving energy on the computer

If you actually still have an old tube monitor, you should think about buying a modern flat screen – also for the benefit of the climate. Above all, large devices are also large consumers. It’s worth replacing them with LED technology, especially when their function starts to deteriorate.

laser printer have a higher power consumption than inkjet printers. Laptops are usually significantly more energy efficient than Desktop PCs, In addition, for both, more powerful devices require more electricity than standard models, which are sufficient for most office work and surfing the Internet.

Screen savers are power guzzlers and technically unnecessary for flat screens. The power-saving options in the system control should also be used with desktop computers. There are also numerous devices around the desk that can be completely disconnected from the power supply at the touch of a finger when connected to a switchable power strip.

Save energy in transport and travel

Instead of driving, it’s better to walk, bike or take public transit – especially for short trips, which result in particularly high fuel consumption and pollutant emissions for cars. Errands can be combined, thus also optimizing the time required and saving energy.

For drivers there are numerous fuel-saving tips that can save 15 to 20 percent fuel: Unload unnecessary ballast from the car, remove roof racks, put on fuel-saving tires and inflate tires with higher air pressure.

Air travel produces some of the highest energy consumption and climate pollution during trips. If possible, switch to train, long-distance bus or local destination that can be reached by bicycle or public transport.

If you still want or need to fly, you can reduce the number of flights and offset the associated emissions by paying into climate projects, at least in mathematical terms. Recommendable is for example the German non-profit organization Atmos-fair.

Saving energy through modern house installation

Pumps for heating water and hot water circulation are among the main contributors to high electricity bills. Oversized, outdated and often in operation around the clock can easily cost several hundred euros for hot water to come out of the pipe without waiting time.

Replacing outdated appliances is one of the household measures that pays for itself most quickly – especially since replacement is subsidized by the government. Heating pumps can also be switched off by a timer or their output can be adjusted downwards. Switch off separately installed heating pumps in summer. Read also: Heating replacement: How to get money from the state for your new heating system

Owners of thermal solar system can often switch off the heating completely from around mid-May until September. Read also: Checklist solar thermal – what you should know about solar heat as well as solar thermal: hot water for heating and bath from your own solar system

Replace electric water heating

The proportion of Electric water heaters on electricity consumption is considerable. If you can switch to -other energy sources (photovoltaics, heat pump, cen-tral or floor heating) in the medium term, you save a lot of energy and money. In case of very long pipes between the boiler and the tap or in case of rarely needed hot water, the electric variant can still be useful. Please also read our guide to heat pumps and our series of articles on photovoltaics.

Other tips for saving electricity and water:

  • Switch off hot water tanks during longer absences.
  • A timer takes undersink hot water tanks (five- to ten-liter units) off the grid overnight or over the weekend in offices.
  • Only prepare as much hot water at the temperature actually needed; older boilers and small appliances lose a lot of energy due to poor insulation. 55 to 60 degrees Celsius are usually quite sufficient ("E" position) of the controller).
  • On electronic instantaneous water heaters, only set the temperature that is actually needed, for example 38 degrees for showering. This way, no cold water is added to the faucet and unnecessary electricity and water consumption is avoided.
  • An energy-saving shower head mixes water with air and lowers the amount of water that needs to be heated.

Compare energy consumption online

If you are concerned with the question of where you can save energy in the future, you should of course know in which area you currently consume how much energy. Many households, however, are not at all aware of their current energy consumption. Are 4.500 kilowatt hours of electricity per year for a family of four little, average or (too) much? How does the consumption of heating and hot water relate to the size of the apartment??

Answers are easy to find. The non-profit consulting company CO2 online for example, offers 14 so-called energy-saving checks on its website. These digital questionnaires allow you to calculate your consumption in different areas – heating, electricity, water, etc. – to be recorded and compared. After a few clicks and entries, it is clear whether you are in the economical green or the wasteful red area.

After you have compared your consumption, the service calculates savings potentials for you and makes concrete suggestions on how you can improve your energy balance. For example, the website works with you to create an "electricity savings plan – recommended!

Calculate CO2 balance online

You want to know the impact of your energy consumption not only on your wallet, but also on the climate? This can also be done on the computer.

The Federal Environment Agency’s CO2 calculator covers almost all areas of consumption. There you can enter your consumption and habits in the areas of living, mobility, nutrition and consumption, save them and compare them with the national average – or your own results from the previous year.

If you try out the calculator, you can see where you are consuming too much. If you start out well ahead of the average German thanks to a well-insulated house, solar panels, green electricity, organic food and moderate meat consumption, the above-average mileage of your diesel-powered van and long-distance air travel will spoil your carbon footprint.

But there is a remedy: Once your personal carbon footprint has been drawn up, the CO2 calculator outlines ways to save climate gases in the future.

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