According to, the average American household spends $2,200 on utility bills each year. Home appliances like washers, dryers, refrigerators, and dishwashers account for approximately 13% of that total, so you want to make sure your choices add up to savings. For instance, choosing an Energy Star-rated refrigerator over a standard model could cut annual operating costs in half!

Also, when shopping for an appliance, don’t confuse Energy Star with the yellow EnergyGuide label. The Energy Star rating is bestowed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to help buyers find appliances with superior energy efficiency. The EnergyGuide label helps you compare the efficiency of one machine over another by providing the estimated annual operating cost.

What follows are tips and tricks for the larger, most-used appliances in your home.


  1. Go cold! Washing your clothes in cold water with cold-water detergents saves the energy it takes to heat the water.
  2. If something is particularly oily, turning up the heat to the “warm” setting could help, but “hot” usually is overkill. Plus, switching from hot to warm can cut energy use in half!
  3. Front-loading machines—or high-efficiency (HE) top loaders—help take a load off your energy bill. With these washers, be sure to use HE detergents that create less suds and therefore use less water.


  1. If your dryer has a moisture sensor (and even if it doesn’t), it’s a good idea to dry towels and heavier cottons separate from your lighter-weight items. Towels take longer to dry, so the sensor will keep the machine going until the towels are dry– which means your other items can get “cooked.”
  2. Lose the lint. Clean the screen after every load, and every so often use the long nozzle of your vacuum to remove the lint beneath the lint screen. This will improve air circulation as well as prevent fire hazards.
  3. Go “old school” and consider air-drying your clothes on an outside line or an inside drying rack.


  1. Keep temperatures at recommended levels, usually around 36 degrees F for the fresh food compartment and 0 degrees F for separate freezers.
  2. Make sure refrigerator doors shut tight. To check, hold a piece of paper so it’s half in and half out, then close the door. If you can pull the paper out easily, you should adjust the latch, replace the seal, or consider buying a new refrigerator.
  3. This sounds simple, but always cover liquids and wrap foods before putting them in the fridge. Otherwise, moisture can leak out and cause the compressor to work harder.
  4. In general, models with the freezer on top are more energy efficient than side-by-side units. And while extras like icemakers and water dispensers are convenient, they do use more energy.


  1. The energy used in a dishwasher comes from heating the water. If you have the manual, it should recommend a water temperature set by the manufacturer, but approximately 120 degrees is a good target.
  2. Wait until the unit is full before you run it. If you have a “rinse hold” setting, you may want to hold off on using it. Each run can take up to seven gallons of hot water.
  3. Like the clothes dryer, let the dishes in your dishwasher air dry. After the final rinse, just crack the door open a smidge.
  4. If you’re buying a new dishwasher, compare the Energy Star labels to find one that uses the federally required 4.25 gallons—or less–of water per cycle. Older units (prior to 1994) can use up to 10 gallons.


A helpful way to save and better understand your energy usage is by taking advantage of innovative products that help your save and better understand your usage. Direct Energy offers Free Power Weekends to all Texas customers. This plan does exactly what it says, you won’t be charged for the electricity supply you use from Friday at 6pm to 11:59pm on Sunday. That’s two hours more than our competitors, making it the energy plan with the most FREE weekend hours in Texas!

With Direct Energy’s Free Weekends Plan, customers who have high energy activities throughout the weekend have the greatest potential to see real savings, compared to what it would cost to do those activities during the rest of the week.

All customers who sign up with Direct Energy, will have access to a custom insight tool called Direct Your Energy. This tool personalizes your energy experience by providing you with insights into your home energy usage. You can see how much energy you used every day, and what that meant for your electricity bill, as well as which appliances in your home used the most energy.

Plus, the Direct Your Energy insights are sent straight to your inbox as Weekly Usage Summary e-mail. From week to week, you can see if your home’s electricity usage went up or down, and make necessary adjustments to help manage your costs.