How can I use my household appliances in a more energy efficient way?

The energy efficiency of major household appliances advanced dramatically when the Government of Canada established new regulations for energy efficiency in 1990. According to the latest report from Natural Resources Canada, a dishwasher purchased in 2015 was three times more efficient than one produced in 1990. And a refrigerator purchased in 2015 required half the energy needed for one produced in 1990.

Nevertheless, you can still reduce your electricity usage and save money by considering the following advice for buying new appliances and for using the appliances you have now.

Before buying a new appliance, compare the EnerGuide ratings of different makes and models

EnerGuide is the official mark of the Government of Canada’s energy performance rating and labelling program for key consumer products. This program allows you to quickly compare the energy performance of one appliance with other appliances based on standards set by Canada’s Energy Efficiency Regulations.

When shopping for major appliances, consult the EnerGuide label on an appliance to find out:

Annual energy consumption

Efficiency scale

Type and capacity

Model number
  1. The annual energy consumption of the model in kilowatt hours ( kWh). Look for the lowest number possible.
  2. How this particular appliance compares to other more efficient or less efficient models in the same class. The further the energy consumption indicator is to the left end of the scale, the more energy-efficient the appliance is.
  3. The type and capacity of models that make up this class of models.
  4. The model number for this particular appliance.


If the appliance meets or exceeds the high efficiency standards of the ENERGY STAR® initiative, the ENERGY STAR® symbol will appear directly under the EnerGuide label.

When buying a new appliance, look for the ENERGY STAR® label:

The ENERGY STAR® name and symbol on a product indicates that it meets or exceeds high efficiency standards, based on strict technical specifications for energy performance. ENERGY STAR® products are extensively tested and independently certified under ENERGY STAR® Canada, a voluntary partnership between the Government of Canada and organizations in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. Typically, an ENERGY STAR® qualified product is in the top 15 to 30% of its class for energy performance.

Take advantage of these simple tips to improve the energy efficiency of your household appliances


  • Use your dishwasher at night or on weekends when off-peak or the lowest electricity prices are in effect.
  • Run your dishwasher only when it’s full.
  • Use the air-dry setting or leave the door open on your dishwasher to naturally dry dishes. Letting your dishes air-dry instead of using the heat-dry option will save you up to 50% of your dishwasher’s energy consumption.
  • When buying a new dishwasher, look for a delayed-start feature (so you can wash dishes during off-peak hours), and short-cycle or economy wash feature. These features use less hot water and are very energy efficient. About 85% of a dishwasher's electricity is used just to heat the water.


  • Use your dryer at night or on weekends when off-peak or the lowest electricity prices are in effect.
  • Use the “perma-press” cycle to tumble your clothes in cooler air for the last few minutes. This reduces wrinkling and saves energy.
  • Be sure to keep the lint filter clean to improve efficiency and prevent fires.
  • Vacuum the dryer exhaust hose once a year.
  • Use an outdoor clothesline during the summer to save electricity.
  • When buying a new dryer, look for a time control feature that helps avoid over-drying and energy waste or ideally an electronic moisture or temperature sensor that automatically shuts the dryer off when clothes are dry.


  • Use your washing machine at night or on weekends when off-peak or the lowest electricity prices are in effect.
  • Do your laundry only when you have a full load.
  • Wash your clothes in cold water whenever possible. Cold water washes and rinses save a tremendous amount of electricity, because 85 to 90% of the energy consumed by a washer is used to heat water.
  • When buying a new washing machine, consider an ENERGY STAR® qualified front-load model. It reduces water usage by almost 45% and energy consumption by about 65%.


  • Use pots or pans that match the stovetop’s elements in size.
  • Preheat your oven only for a minimum amount of time. It’s only really necessary for baking.
  • Use the self-cleaning feature on an oven immediately after cooking so it will use less electricity.
  • Use the oven window to check food as it cooks. Opening the door releases heat and wastes energy.
  • Instead of using your oven to reheat food, use a toaster or microwave oven to save energy.
  • When buying a new oven and stove, look for:
    • A self-cleaning oven, because these models are up to 25% more efficient and better insulated than other models.
    • A well-insulated and tight-fitting oven door that will keep the heat in more effectively.
    • An oven window that will let you check on food cooking without opening the door.


  • Make sure that your refrigerator is set at the optimal temperature, which is usually 3°C for the refrigerator section and -18°C for the freezer section. Check your refrigerator manual for the correct temperature or setting for your model.
  • Ensure that the condenser coils on the back of your refrigerator are clean.
  • Check the gasket on the fridge door to ensure it provides a tight fit. To do this, close the fridge door on a piece of paper. If you can pull the paper out easily, it may be time to replace the gasket.
  • Allow for 2.5 centimetres (1 inch) of space on all sides of your refrigerator so that heat can move away from the compressor and condensing coil.
  • Before you purchase a new refrigerator:
    • Look for a model with an energy-saver switch.
    • Consider a smaller fridge with fewer features. Larger fridges and fridges with accessories like ice-makers consume more electricity than other models.
    • Remember that a side-by-side refrigerator/freezer uses more electricity than models with the freezer on the top or bottom.
    • Select a refrigerator size that is ideal for your household. One to two people usually need a refrigerator that is 340 litres (12 cubic feet) in size and three to four people need 395 to 480 litres (14 to 17 cubic feet).  For each additional person, add about 55 litres (2 cubic feet) in size.


  • Keep your freezer temperature at -18°C. Setting your freezer at a colder temperature will use more electricity.
  • Try to keep your freezer well-stocked. A full freezer operates more efficiently than an empty one.
  • Ensure the door seal on your freezer is tight and secure.
  • Regularly vacuum behind and underneath your freezer and maintain a space of 5 cm (2 inches) around your freezer. These steps will ensure that heat can circulate away from the compressor and condensing coil, so your freezer uses less energy.
  • Before you purchase a new freezer:
    • Consider a chest freezer model. These are more energy-efficient than uprights and give you more usable space.
    • Allow for about 85 to 140 litres (3 to 5 cubic feet) per person.

Small Kitchen Appliances

  • Warm leftovers or make snacks with a microwave or a small toaster oven instead of using the stove. Microwaves, for example, use up to 50% less electricity than an electric stove.
  • Use an electric kettle with an auto shut-off feature to boil water. It’s the most energy-efficient way.
  • Remember to unplug small kitchen appliances when they’re not in use to reduce “always-on power”. “Always On” power is the electricity wasted when appliances are left plugged in. Plugged-in appliances continue to draw power, even when they’re turned off.  
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