How to $ave: An old refrigerator can eat up energy, money

An old refrigerator can eat up energy and money

Does this sound familiar? You bought a new ENERGY STAR-qualified refrigerator and moved your old fridge to the garage or basement to keep a few drinks cold. Here’s a tip to can help you save energy and money.

Old refrigerators, especially those more than 17 years old, tend to use a lot of energy. A refrigerator bought before 1993 uses more than twice as much energy as a new ENERGY STAR refrigerator. So you’re spending a lot of money to keep that refrigerator running. What’s more, refrigerant wears out and seals start to leak over time, causing a decline in the performance of an older refrigerator.

If you have moved your old refrigerator to an uninsulated location, such as a garage, it will use even more energy during hot weather. A fridge in a 90 degree environment, for example, uses nearly 50% more energy than one in a 70 degree environment. And if the temperature falls below about 40 degrees in the winter, the refrigerator’s thermostat may not run its cooling and defrost cycles for the appropriate amount of time.

So just by pulling the plug on that old refrigerator, you can save a lot of money each year.

For other tips on how to save energy—and money—visit Touchstone Energy’s energy-saving website or call the energy experts at Dakota Valley Electric Cooperative. Find out how the little changes add up at


Spring into saving money on energy!

Spring is a perfect time of year to make your home more energy-efficient. And with the beautiful weather we’ve had this year, we can begin these projects today.

To get you started, here are five quick tips that will save both energy and money. To learn about additional ways to cut your energy bill this spring, visit, or contact an energy expert at Dakota Valley Electric Cooperative, (701) 493-2281.

1. Seal the cracks and gaps around your home.  Spring may be the right time to put away those storm windows, but it is also a good time to add weather-stripping and caulking around leaky window panes. shows how easy it is to use a caulking gun to seal up leaks around your house around doors, vents, ductwork and windows. A typical member at Dakota Valley can save more than $200 annually.

2. Change filters regularly. Furnace and air conditioner filters need to be changed monthly and this can really help lower monthly energy bills.  Dirty filters can restrict air flow and reduce the overall efficiency of your cooling system and make it work even harder on hot summer days.

3. Clean the refrigerator inside and out.  Now is a good time to not only throw out the leftover fruit cake from the holidays, but also to check the temperature settings on your refrigerator.  Ideally, a refrigerator’s temperature should be between 37 and 40 degrees for maximum operating efficiency. When it’s time to replace that old refrigerator, be sure to buy an ENERGY STAR® rated appliance. Energy-efficient appliances can save Dakota Valley members as much as $100 a year based on calculations from the website.

4. Think sun block. demonstrates that by pulling the shades on your windows this spring and summer, you could save about $35 a year.  Your local hardware or do-it-yourself stores has lots of inexpensive window coverings. Best of all, by blocking the sun, your house will stay cool and comfortable year-round.

5. Enjoy the spring breezes.  Use a clothesline throughout the warmer months to let the sun and breeze dry clothes naturally.  This will reduce both energy and water bills, and add a genuine clean scent to your family’s laundry. You can learn more about ways to lower your monthly energy bill by visiting or by calling the energy experts at Dakota Valley.

How to save more than $400 on electric bills, without even really trying

The answer is super simple: unplug your entertainment center.

Then replug all those cords into one power strip with an on-off switch. (If you’re like me, you have three or four awaiting use in the bottom of a desk drawer.) With the power cord, you and your family can power each machine on and off with one simple click… and save $150 in the process.

Check out a demo at Touchstone Energy’s here.

See, even when they aren’t on, your TVs, DVRs, Nintendo Wii systems, etc., use power. That wastes resources and hard-earned money… about $150 per year for the average home, according to (Here‘s what assumes is an average family home.)

Tips like these come in handy when the need for energy increases in winter. Plus, Dakota Valley and Northern Plains consumers can expect rate increases beginning in January and April respectively. So implement these tips now, and you won’t notice an increase come 2012 🙂

Other ways to reduce wasted power and to save money:

* Set your thermostat to cheap: for each degree you lower your thermostat in the winter, expect to see a savings of about $180/year. So if you usually keep your house a toasty 70 degrees, reduce that heat to 68 degrees, and invest the $360 you just saved into a pair of wooly slippers. 🙂

* Adjust the blinds: Allowing the sunshine in during winter and keeping it out in summer can save your household about 50 bucks a year. The sunshine naturally warms your home, so in the winter, it gives your heating elements a warming boost…. at no charge! So close the curtains in summer, and open them when the snow falls.

* Beat the (water) heat: Water heaters need not be set for more than 120 degrees. Reduce your settings from 135 degrees to 120 degrees and save the $60 or so you save each year for water skis, water falls or water towers… anything but wasted energy on your water heater.

Check out other tips at

So, how do you save money on power bills?

Earth Day: Have a safe & efficient home all year long

Want to maintain a safe and energy efficient house? There’s no better time to take the steps necessary than on Earth Day, which happens to be today. Better yet, we’ll give you a handy calendar to help you accomplish everything.

Click on the image below to open the full-sized, printable version.

Click on the image to open the printable version!

A Round up of efficiency on Facebook

We love teaching others about simple steps they can take to reduce their electrical use, therefore saving money. We also love interacting with our members through our Facebook page.  (After all, Together We Save.) Apparently, we’re not the only energy resource who feels the same.

There are tons of Facebook pages that share energy efficiency tips with their followers. We’ve rounded up a few of our favorite for anyone interested in learning how to reduce their energy consumption. Efficiency tips will stream into your Facebook home feed, making it even easier to learn ways to save money. Just click on the links below and “Like” the pages. Continue reading