Save energy how to save electricity with these household appliances

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Electricity from the basic supply currently costs more than ever before. Saving electricity in the household is therefore not only good for the wallet, but also for the environment. We tell you where it really makes a difference and who the secret power guzzlers are.

By: Alexander Dallmus

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Electricity prices 2022

On average in Germany, the electricity from the basic supply costs currently just under 32 cents per kilowatt hour. Record level. But this only applies to existing customers. For new customers or consumers who (have to) switch from other electricity providers, utilities are charging much more right now.

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4-person household electricity

As the comparison portal Verivox recently calculated, for a household with four people and a 12-month consumption of 4.000 kilowatt hours after all about 50 euros more a year. Of course, it can also be cheaper and the average electricity price depends on offers from local or national suppliers. But according to the Federal Network Agency, more than a quarter of all households have an expensive basic electricity contract. (Consumer advice center: change electricity or gas supplier).

Why does the price of electricity remain high, even when stock market prices are low??

Why does the price of electricity remain high even when stock market prices are low??

The electricity price at this high level is astonishing mainly because both grid operators and regulators have been striving to limit costs in recent years. The reduction in the EEG surcharge at the beginning of the year from 6.5 to 3.72 cents per kilowatt hour has largely fizzled out. Utilities that buy electricity on the market at short notice are being forced to pass on rising procurement costs to their customers due to rising wholesale prices.

The current plans of the traffic light coalition envisage that the levy charged on the electricity price will be completely eliminated from 2023 onwards. The financing of the green electricity expansion then takes place from budget funds. However, there have recently been increasing calls for this step to be brought forward due to the current high energy prices.

In any case, the most efficient way for consumers is to save electricity. Good for your wallet, but also for the environment.

Saving energy in the household

THE classics in terms of electricity waste remain electric water heating and old heating pumps. Especially in the case of old pumps, the additional costs can quickly add up to well over a hundred euros over the course of a year, while new, highly efficient models regulate their output themselves as needed. "In individual cases" says Norbert Endres, electricity consultant at the Bavarian consumer advice center, "but there are also always defective thermostats in refrigerators and freezers that multiply consumption." So it’s good to measure the temperature regularly to find out if the appliance is still working properly. Or approximately with frosty temperatures in the middle of the normal refrigerator immediately times the specialist lets come. Is a new appliance worth it: Calculate energy consumption.

What many do not have on the radar: Particularly with the rented non removable disk receivers individual devices can be responsible quite for 50 euro additional costs annually with the river. Why, electricity and energy advisor Endres notes again and again during his house visits:

"Because the person who provides me with the appliance is not that interested in consumption – because the supplier knows that he only has to provide the appliance, but you pay for the consumption."

Norbert Endres, electricity and energy consultant of the consumer center Bavaria

Electric heaters are also often the cause of inexplicably high electricity bills or additional payments. For energy consultant Endres, they are only recommended as an infrequent addition:

"If already, then rather radiant heaters with thermostat, thus infrared plates, use. Which one hangs on the wall or also under the table. This is also done in some airy churches for a few hours a week."

Norbert Endres, electricity and energy consultant at the Bavarian consumer advice center

Read here which auxiliary heaters are useful – and which are not: Additional heating in the test – radiator, convector or fan heater?

The dryer really packs a punch

The average German produces about 5.5 kilos of dirty laundry per week, according to the German Cosmetic, Toiletry, Perfumery and Detergent Association.V. (IKW) extrapolated. That adds up to a total nationwide consumption of about 6 billion kilowatt hours. Just to wash dirty laundry. Four factors are important for a good washing result: Detergent use, the technology, the temperature and the time. If you turn one of these four screws, it affects the others.

For example, always make the drum full. In order not to impair the washing performance, "full" is used here, that there should always be a hand’s width of air at the top of the drum for dirty laundry: These things are allowed in the washing machine.

The washing result depends strongly on how long a wash cycle lasts (does underwear really get clean at 30 degrees?)?). In the last years the washing programs were extended temporally ever more. So that even with the so-called eco-programs and water-saving machines, the laundry is at least as clean as it used to be – when the washing time was shorter, but much more energy was used to do it. The fact that energy consumption is supposed to be reduced with longer washing may irritate many – but can be explained with a very simple example: If you drive a car at 160 km/h, you will reach your destination faster (with high fuel consumption). If, on the other hand, you only drive 80 km/h, you need a little longer to cover the same distance, but you save a lot of fuel. With the washing machine that is even river, which is used above all for heating up the water.

The tumble dryer, on the other hand, is a real power guzzler. Drying a load of laundry consumes about twice to three times as much electricity as a 60-degree wash. Although there are already particularly economical dryers that run on gas or use heat pump technology, the gas version in particular cannot even be connected in many households.

"Dryers without heat pumps often consume twice, sometimes even three times as much electricity as dryers with heat pumps, but the energy label for dryers will not be renewed until 2024. Therefore the recommendation: If a new dryer, then with A and three plus signs at the end."

Norbert Endres, electricity and energy consultant at the Bavarian Consumer Center

And then spin better right away. 1.200 or 1.400 revolutions in the machine ensure that the dryer no longer takes so long to dry and thus also consumes less electricity. If you iron the clothes anyway, there is no need to over-dry them become. It’s clear that the good old clothesline or clothes horse are still the most energy efficient. Even in winter, by the way: Why frost-drying is a good idea.

LED makes the difference

Those who still mourn the old light bulbs should take comfort in the fact that LED energy-saving lamps three to five times more economical are. LED lamps have the best overall eco-balance of all energy-saving forms of lighting. Incandescent and halogen lamps are rated the worst, by the way. Conventional incandescent lamps are no longer allowed to be sold in most power levels anyway. Consider which lamps and luminaires are in use for more than an hour a day. Exactly there are the big saving potentials. With three hours of burning time, an 11-watt energy-saving lamp can save a good 50 KWh per year compared to an old 60-watt incandescent lamp. More information is available here: Halogen, LEDs and Co – How to find the right light bulb and save money

Notebooks are very economical

Especially somewhat older consumer electronics devices really eat up electricity. For example, old stereo systems that are in standby mode. Partly there are big differences. A plasma screen generally consumes twice as much power as an LCD TV. And a TFT monitor requires almost as much power as the computer it is connected to. "Notebooks are often about three times more economical than desktop PCs with a monitor", says Norbert Endres "because they have been optimized for mobile and battery-saving use."

Plugged-in chargers always consume electricity?

By the way, modern chargers and mains plugs do not work as lossy as before. The now flat power supplies of smartphones or chargers for electric toothbrushes use relatively little power for themselves. This also applies to many new devices in standby mode, such as televisions. Thanks to the EU Eco-Design Directive, the consumption in standby must even be less than one watt for a longer time out. Accordingly, the electricity costs per device are also less than two euros per year. Of course, depending on the number of devices, this can still add up to a larger amount.

Devices with rechargeable batteries are more economical than those with plugs?

When devices are designed to be energy-efficient, this naturally has an effect on power consumption. See notebooks. However, it is not so easy to answer the question of whether cordless electrical appliances are more economical. It depends very much on the individual device and the field of application.

Vacuum cleaner with battery? Not really worth it .

Take vacuum cleaners, for example: In a comparison by Stiftung Warentest (02/21), cordless devices consistently performed better in terms of power consumption (very good/good) than the test winners with cord and plug. However, the rechargeable devices wear out more quickly. At full suction power, even the best devices only lasted a good quarter of an hour. In addition, the performance of the batteries decreases noticeably after frequent charging and discharging. At best, you can replace batteries yourself. But of course this costs extra.

In principle, the following applies to rechargeable batteries: At a state of charge between 20 and 80 percent, rechargeable batteries live longer. Complete charging and discharging should not be the rule, but rather the exception. It is quite sufficient to carry out a so-called calibration once a month: In this case, the almost completely empty battery device is recharged to the limit in order to calibrate the battery percentage display. If you do not use a rechargeable device for a longer period of time, it is sufficient to charge the battery only up to half. Because of the self-discharge, it does not hurt to recharge something after half a year.

Refrigerators. Crucial, because in continuous use

Because refrigerators and freezers usually run continuously, they also consume about one-fifth of the total electricity in the average household. Most people leave their refrigerator running a little too cool inside. On average, one degree lower means an increase in total consumption of five percent per year. That’s why it’s also good to think about the size of the refrigerator for how many people in the household before you buy it.

The different temperature zones (nowadays modern as BioFresh, VitaFresh etc. The following table shows the most common causes of this phenomenon (referred to as). There are physical reasons for this, because cool air sinks to the bottom and usually collects on the cover plate above the vegetable compartment. It’s always a little warmer upstairs than downstairs. As well as in the door, far away from the cold back wall. That’s why the butter and egg compartments are also classically placed there. By the way, a temperature of plus seven degrees is recommended for the middle section of the refrigerator. (The right temperature and the right order in the refrigerator)

"It can’t hurt to take these measurements with a separate thermometer, because sometimes the built-in sensors are covered by some food and measure incorrectly."

Norbert Endres, electricity and energy consultant at the Bavarian Consumer Center

For the freezer or the freezer minus 18 degrees are enough. Each degree lower costs only unnecessary energy and thus cash money.

By the way, a full refrigerator saves energy. After all, when the refrigerator door is opened, cooled air escapes and warm air enters the interior – and has to be cooled down again after it is closed. So the more food fills the space in the refrigerator, the less air can fit in.

Moreover, it cannot be repeated often enough: Defrosting the freezer compartment is necessary (defrost the refrigerator and freezer properly). Not only for hygienic reasons. But because it also saves energy:

"A thick layer of ice insulates better, but it also insulates the inside of the freezer from its own efficiency. How much this makes is difficult to describe. But the thicker the layer of ice, the more necessary it is to de-ice."

Norbert Endres, electricity and energy advisor at the Bavarian Consumer Center

The more efficient the stove, the better

Of course, it always depends on how often and for how many people the stove is used. But if you like to cook and bake for a whole family every day, you will naturally consume a lot of electricity over the year. 600 kilowatt hours can add up for a 4-person household.

Induction stoves consume less electricity compared to a ceramic stove. On average between 15 and 30 percent – depending on use: Are induction stoves really more economical??

Circulating air provides better heat distribution in the oven compared to top and bottom heat. This can also reduce the baking temperature by at least a fifth – which is, of course, much more energy efficient: why you can do without preheating

"That’s why it’s recommended to use convection rather than top/bottom heat. In addition, you can then cook several baking sheets evenly, which is not so easy with top and bottom heat."

Norbert Endres, electricity and energy consultant of the consumer center Bavaria

Unsafe? Measure power consumption

If you suddenly find a sharp increase in your electricity bill and can’t explain how it happens, you should make an appointment with an energy advisor.

However, if you already have a concrete suspicion, you can also borrow a professional meter to determine reliable consumption figures of the corresponding device. You can get measuring devices, for example, at the energy consultations of the consumer centers, but also at many adult education centers, the Bund Naturschutz and even in public libraries. You will find a rental list and an overview of rental points for the energy monitor via the postal code in the next paragraph under "Further links".

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