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What Uses the Most Electricity in a House?
Inspire Clean Energy
10 min read
category: Sustainable Living
These days, we’d be lost without our appliances and electronic devices. The idea of living without heating, lighting, computers, and game consoles is nearly unbearable, but none of these things are free. Every month, when that power bill comes around, you realize just how much electricity you use to keep comfortable and entertained. But do you know what things use the most power and which the least? We’re going to look at what appliances use the most energy and share some tips on reducing your electricity bill.
What appliances use the most electricity in a household?
When talking about power consumption, you really need to consider two factors: how much electricity an appliance uses when it’s in use and how long it’s on.
Almost anything that heats or cools is likely to be a big consumer of electricity and an HVAC tops the list. Not only does it draw a lot of electricity, but it will typically be on for several hours a day, sometimes all day. The climate where you live plays a big part in how much this is actually going to cost. If you live in a temperate zone, your heating and cooling use will be far less than if you inhabit a place that experiences temperature extremes. Many states in the US have long, cold winters and/or hot summers, and residents will have to put up with higher energy costs than people living in milder climates.
Appliances like refrigerators and freezers might be quite efficient and not too power-hungry, but the fact they are on 24/7 means they are bound to play a major part in your electric usage.
What is using so much electricity in my house?
What uses the most electricity in a house is not always obvious. Every appliance and device has different power requirements, and it can be difficult to know exactly what is ramping up your energy consumption. Although you can generalize that climate control and anything that heats, like an oven, washer/dryer, or hairdryer, are major energy users, you may be unclear about exact amounts for them and all your other appliances.
For around $15-$30, you can buy an electricity usage monitor that will tell you exactly how much power a device is using. These little boxes simply plug into an outlet, and then you plug the power lead of the appliance into the monitor. All you have to do is see how many kilowatt-hours it uses and then work out what it costs you to run. You can find out how much you pay per kWh from your energy company’s bill.
More sophisticated systems are available that will accurately measure your total energy usage and that of individual appliances too. It will show you on an app on your smartphone just what is using what amount of power in real-time. Though these cost between $150-$250, you may find the detailed information enables you to take control of your electric usage and reduce the amount you use.
What makes your electric bill so high?
When you’re at home, it can be nice to be able to dress in a t-shirt and jeans with just socks on your feet every day of the year, but it will cost you. Keeping the temperature at 68℉ or more, whatever the conditions outside are like, seems like a good idea, but you have to be prepared for your power bills to go up. Reducing your thermostat in winter and increasing it in the summer, even by just a few degrees, can have a significant impact on your electric bill.
It tends to cost more to maintain the correct temperature in older houses. Building techniques have changed and insulation has improved, making modern houses cheaper to heat and cool. If you have an old home and have the budget, think about upgrading the insulation in the walls and roof, and make sure the windows don’t let in drafts.
Older appliances generally cost more to run than newer ones. Technology has improved in all areas of consumer products, and modern devices are far more efficient and use less electricity than those manufactured even a few years ago. Although keeping appliances that use the most energy up to date can cost serious money, it will pay you back in savings with your electricity bills.
Another contribution to your electric bill is unnecessary power usage: leaving lights on when a room is empty, using the HVAC when the house is empty, and so on. You should try to get into the habit of turning off lights and appliances when they are not needed and programming your HVAC to reflect your life and work pattern.
What costs the most on your electric bill?
Heating and cooling are by far the greatest energy users in the home, making up around 40% of your electric bill. Other big users are washers, dryers, ovens, and stoves. Electronic devices like laptops and TVs are usually pretty cheap to run, but of course, it can all add up. When you think about how many things you own need electric power, it is pretty mind-blowing.
Does unplugging appliances save electricity?
The short answer is yes. Many electric appliances and devices continue to use power even when not in use. If they have a simple mechanical on/off button, they are probably okay, but so many things these days have a small circuit always on ready to trigger when a button or remote is pressed. Then what about all those items that have a built-in clock or a memory for settings? Indeed, we are not talking about a lot of power, but they are using it every moment of every day. According to the US Department of Energy1, taking the time to unplug appliances could save you $100-$200.
Why is my electric bill so high all of a sudden in 2021?
Electric prices do vary, as do all commodity prices, and this can affect your energy bill if you are not on a fixed tariff. More commonly, though, a spike in your bill in 2020 and 2021 is likely to be do to a change in circumstances. COVID-19 has influenced our lives and resulted in most of us spending far more time at home than is usual. Being at home means you use more electricity, perhaps a lot more. The house needs to be kept at a living temperature all the time; working from home means using a computer and printer; staying entertained means TVs, tablets, and game consoles are on far more often than they would normally be.
Is it cheaper to heat with gas or electricity?
For most places in the country, natural gas is substantially cheaper than electricity. So a gas-powered furnace is cheaper to run than an electric system, though more expensive to install. But the situation is changing. Gas is a finite resource, and the stocks are beginning to run low while renewable energy sources will continue to expand. As gas becomes more difficult to extract, it will become more expensive. On the other hand, electricity produced by green energy will gradually become less expensive as more comes on stream.
The top 10 energy costs in your home
1. HVAC The answer to the question of which household appliances use the most power is heating and cooling, and top of the list is your HVAC system. Keeping it serviced and your home insulated should minimize the cost of this essential equipment.
2. Water heating If air conditioning and heating account for over 40% of your electric usage, heating hot water adds another 14%. The only trick is not to waste water. Have showers rather than baths and use a dishwasher instead of washing up by hand.
3. Refrigerator You can’t do without a refrigerator, but you can reduce the running costs. Number one is to replace an old one with a new model. Refrigerators made today are of higher quality than older models in terms of energy usage. It also helps not to overload it, keep it at the manufacturer’s recommended temperature, and use it efficiently. Every time you open the door, it loses some of its cold air and has to work harder.
4. Washer and dryer Together, they use about 5% of your electricity. Again, efficiency is the watchword. Always wash a full load but don’t overfill; use cold water and dry naturally when you can.
5. Electric oven and stove Although not in use for long periods every day, both ovens and stoves draw a lot of electricity, so be sensible in their use. Give an oven the minimum warm-up time and opt for a toaster oven, microwave, or slow cooker when possible.
6. Dishwasher A dishwasher is better than washing up by hand, both for electricity usage and water conservation, but always wash a full load and use an economy mode when possible.
7. Lighting Modern light bulbs are much less energy-greedy than old-fashioned bulbs. LEDs, in particular, offer good quality light, no heat, and operate at a fraction of the cost of older technologies.
8. Television and media equipment The current generation of electronics is frugal in its energy needs and probably doesn’t use more than 1% of your electric consumption, so if you have a modern TV, you won’t have to worry much. If you’re going out for the entire day or away for a weekend, consider turning it off at the wall to conserve energy.
9. Computers Like TVs, modern computers are not too bad with their power demands but are frequently left on all the time. They don’t break if you turn them off when you are not using them.
10. “Vampire” power Just because a device is off doesn’t mean it is not drawing power. Unplug or use power strips with on/off switches to make certain they don’t draw power when you’re not actively using them.
No one wants to do without electricity, but you should be aware of what appliances use the most energy and be mindful about how you use them. We have become far too used to just turning things on and forgetting about them. Electric power is a resource and shouldn’t be wasted, both for the sake of your bank account and the environment.
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