The Council of Medio Ambiente at the Ayuntamiento offer the following very useful advice to reduce energy costs.
The aim is to conserve energy and help in the fight against the global warming, at the same time reducing the exorbitant cost of electricity and natural gas to yourself.
Start to save energy right now!
Refrigerators and freezers:
* Set the temperature of your refrigerator between 3ºC and 7 °C, and your freezer between -18°C and -15°C. Each extra degree of cooling uses 5% more of energy.
* Leave cooked foods to cool off before putting them in refrigerator.
* Avoid opening the door of the refrigerator continuously, the loss of cold air makes the compressor work more intensely thus increasing the electrical consumption.
* Position fridges and freezers away from heat sources. Remember that the freezer does not have to be as close to hand as the refrigerator. Locate the freezer in a cool room to increase its efficiency.
* Wash in cold or low temperatures.
* Wash only full loads.
* Make sure the filter on the washing machine is clean.
* Use only when full.
* Rinse the plates with cold water before putting them in the machine.
* Consult the recommendations of the manufacture with respect to the temperature of the water.
* Use pans that spread the heat well, for example stainless steel ones with special coatings and heavy bottom to avoid deformation.
* Cook larger amounts and freeze the surplus for use later.
* Use saucepans and frying pans that have a diameter larger than the hotplate (a small pan, leaving 2 or 3 cm of hotplate exposed will waste almost half of the energy).
* Iron all of your clothes in one session. Heating an iron up to press just a few items wastes a lot of energy.
* Iron heavy clothes first (or those that need higher temperatures). Finish off by ironing the ones that require less heat.
* Disconnect the iron shortly before finishing to take advantage of the accumulated heat.
* Make sure the plate of the iron is always smooth and clean to ensure that the heat is transmitted in a uniform way.
* Turn off your computer if it is not going to be used within the next hour.
* Set the monitor to go to a black screen when it is left for more than a few minutes. Just moving the mouse or touching the keyboard will bring the screen back on.
* When you buy a computer or screen make sure it is energy saving.
* Keep doors and windows closed when the air conditioning is on. Open them only to refresh the air in the house when it is cool outside. A door or window open for 10 - 15 minutes will freshen up a room sufficiently.
* Tape or seal any gaps in doors and windows etc.
Recommendations for the efficient use of a air conditioning system (air conditioning units use a lot of energy):
* Keep doors and windows closed while it is working.
* When you leave the room switch the air conditioning off.
* Regulate the temperature. Don't try to lower it excessively - it is better to try and achieve a balance between temperature and humidity.
* Clean the air filters regularly to avoid or to reduce dust, insect or pollen contamination. By keeping the filters clean you can save between a 3% and a 10% energy (dirty filters overload the motor and reduce its efficiency).
* Have the equipment maintained annually by a qualified technician.
* Consider installing a ventilator or a dehumidifier instead of a air conditioning. For example, in bedrooms air conditioning can cause sore throats, respiratory problems or headaches. In these situations, the use of a bioclimatizador is sufficient to maintain suitable comfort. They are easy to use and to install, and come at a reasonable price.
I would add to this list the recommendation that you don't leave televisions, videos, DVD players etc on standby when you are not going to be using them for awhile e.g. overnight.
There are other energy saving moves you can make e.g. replacing light bulbs with energy saving ones and buying only A rated (or better) appliances. In particular DC inverter type air conditioning units consume a lot less energy than standard ones.