Saving energy is the order of the day. What can you do within your own four walls to minimize water and electricity consumption? An expert has a few answers to questions about bathing versus showering, boiling water and unplugging.
Energy prices have risen sharply in recent months. In response, almost every second German household tries to save energy, and Economics Minister Robert Habeck also appealed: "Everyone can make a contribution." Limiting the use of electricity and water not only has a positive effect on the bank balance, but also benefits the environment. This saves as much energy as possible in the bathroom, kitchen or at your desk.
Bathing versus showering: how big is the difference?
"In general, you can say that showering uses far less water than bathing: the average bathtub has a capacity of 150 liters. When the water cools down, you often let even more hot water run in," explains Sören Demandt, energy expert at the North Rhine-Westphalia consumer advice center. However, it also depends on how long you shower, what temperature you set the water to, where you get your hot water from and the amount of liquid in the shower head. With an eight-minute shower at 38 degrees and with a medium pouring amount, about 80 liters come together.
Another way to save energy in the bathroom is to unplug unused electrical appliances, such as electric toothbrush chargers or hair dryers, when they are not in use.
Would you rather heat water in a saucepan or in a kettle?
Everyone has probably asked themselves this question when cooking pasta. Sören Demandt recommends the kettle: "It heats up more efficiently than the stove. If you heat water on the stove, then definitely with a lid, otherwise a significant part of the energy is lost." With the kettle you should make sure that you only heat as much as you really need. If you only want to drink a cup of tea, you don't have to heat a whole liter of water to 100 degrees.
Prefer to warm up food in the microwave or on the stove?
According to the energy expert, there is no significant difference between the microwave and the stove when it comes to heating food. The advantage of the microwave: "You can determine the wattage and the time yourself."
Wash dirty dishes in the dishwasher or by hand?
"A full dishwasher is clearly more efficient than washing up by hand," says Demandt. "Both when it comes to water and electricity consumption." Here, the expert advises the integrated Eco program, also for the washing machine: "It takes a little longer to achieve the same cleaning performance, but the water doesn't heat up that much." Short programs, on the other hand, are not recommended because they require more water and electricity. Pre-rinsing is also not necessary - that uses unnecessary water. In addition, the capacity of the machine should be used as well as possible.
Should you preheat the oven?
According to the energy expert, when baking cakes or pizza, preheating is unnecessary and consumes a lot of energy. He also advises turning off the oven a few minutes earlier - the heat stays inside, but no additional energy is generated. It is also advisable to use the convection function: Compared to top and bottom heat, you save about 15 percent energy.
Does it make sense to unplug unused devices?
You don't necessarily have to unplug modern mobile phone chargers, says Demandt. "They use almost no electricity at all." With older chargers, for example laptops, it is worth unplugging them as they also draw power when no device is connected. "That's the simplest way to save energy," says Demandt. The same applies to old music systems or desktop computers. He recommends multiple sockets with an on/off button as a practical way of immediately disconnecting several devices from the power supply, especially for groups of devices such as the television or at the desk.
What is the biggest energy guzzler in the household?
"Deactivating the WLAN when you're not using it does more than most people think," explains Sören Demandt. You don't necessarily have to disconnect the router from the network for this, you can activate a time control on many devices and disconnect the WLAN function at night or when you're on vacation. "It's hard to believe: the WLAN router uses more energy than a refrigerator."
(This article was first published on Sunday, May 08, 2022.)