Column: Energy Efficiency & Temperatures

March 12, 2022

[Written by BELCO]

Bermuda Electric Light Company Limited [BELCO] customers can take several actions to improve their energy efficiency which can help to lower their bills. Paying attention to the temperature settings of high-energy consuming appliances such as air conditioners, refrigerators, and freezers, washing machines, and dishwashers can have a big impact on reducing energy consumption.

Air Conditioners:

According to the US Department of Energy1, 78° Fahrenheit is the ideal temperature for air conditioners to balance energy savings and comfort when people are at home and need cooling. The smaller the difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures, the lower the energy consumption will be. Setting the best temperature can ensure that you’re heating, and cooling systems are not wasting energy as every degree of extra heating or cooling can increase both energy usage and costs.

During winter, the lower the interior temperature, the slower the heat loss. The longer your house remains at the lower temperature, the more energy you can save, because your house has lost less energy than it would have at the higher temperature. The same concept applies to raising your temperature setting in the summer – a higher interior temperature will slow the flow of heat into your house, saving energy on air conditioning.

Setting your air conditioner’s temperature with conservation and efficiency in mind not only prevents excess energy from being wasted but can also result in the reduction of carbon dioxide [CO2] emissions.

Research has also shown that temperature can have a big impact on your health and general productivity, so it’s wise to pay a little more attention to the thermostat. One of the biggest areas where temperature impacts our health is during sleep. Sleeping in colder temperatures can make it very difficult to achieve a good night’s sleep, even though many people feel otherwise. It’s true that sleeping conditions should be slightly cooler than normal, a general recommendation is that the optimal temperature for sleeping is between 60⁰ and 67⁰ F, regardless of the season outside.2

1 Department of Energy’s Spring & Summer Energy Saving Tips

2 Cleveland Clinic’s information on ideal sleeping temperatures.

Refrigerators and Freezers:

Set your refrigerator and/or freezer temperature to the manufacturer’s recommendation to avoid excessive cooling and wasting energy. Correct fridge and freezer temperatures not only maintain the longevity of your foods, but also keep them safe from harmful bacteria. To maintain food safety standards, it’s recommended that you always set the refrigerator temperature between 35F and 38F degrees, and your freezer between 0F and 5F degrees. A refrigerator set 10 degrees colder can potentially use up to 25 percent more energy.3

Regulating room temperature is also important as refrigerators can use 2.5 percent more energy for each 1 degree over normal ambient room temperature [70 degrees]. This means your refrigerator could use 22 to 25 percent more energy in an 80-degree room, and 45 to 50 percent more in a 90-degree room.3 Your refrigerator may also use more energy if it is near an oven or dishwasher. Make sure there are a few inches of space between your refrigerator and the wall to maintain good air circulation. This will help your refrigerator run more efficiently.

3 Rocky Mountain Institute Energy Briefs.

Washing and Drying Machines:

There are several ways related to temperature to reduce the amount of energy used to wash and dry clothes, sheets, and towels. Some of which are:

  • 1. Use cold water where possible. It’s only for particularly dirty clothes, or bad stains that you are likely to need warmer temperatures. Washing machines use 90% of their energy expenditure heating the water, so if you wash your lightly soiled clothes in cold water you will be reducing both consumption and cost.
  • 2. Where possible, use a high spin speed so clothes come out of the washing machine almost dry, with little need for tumble drying. And, of course, when it comes to drying where possible hang your clothes up rather than using a dryer.
  • 3. Try to do all your drying in one day; a second or third load can take advantage of the heat that has already built up in the machine


Since the early 1990s, most dishwashers in the U.S. have been sold with built-in heaters to boost water temperature to 140–145°F, the temperature recommended by manufacturers for optimum dishwashing performance. The advantage to the booster heater is that you can turn down your main water heater, reducing water heating costs. Setting your water heater to 120°F [typically halfway between the “medium” and “low” settings] will result in energy savings without compromising on cleanliness.5

5 Smarter House by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy

AMI Meters:

If you have an AMI meter installed you can create an account on and track your energy consumption at different times of the day and when appliances are being used and adjust accordingly to reduce overall energy consumption to save money on your monthly bill.

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