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Blog Nov 13, 2017

What Appliances Use The Most Electricity

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The number of electric household appliances and gadgets are infinite. From electric woks to towel warmers, Americans now have endless options to help them eliminate daily hassles and get their chores done quicker and more efficiently. And while these extra machines are nice to have, there are a handful of common appliances that most households need to run smoothly, something that requires in some cases constant electricity. This comes at a cost however, the total of which can have significant meaning for some households.  Take a look below to see how some of these common household appliances work and how they, on average, impact your energy bill.

Here are which appliances use the most electricity in your home

Central Air Conditioner – $460 per year

Heating and cooling together make up the majority of all electricity used in homes, and central air conditioners are becoming standard in many houses and apartments. Air conditioning works by pulling heat out of the air. When you turn down the thermostat, the A/C unit pulls air into the ducts, runs it through a filter, cools it, and then delivers it back into the rooms of the house (see HomeTips.com for more detail). The average central air conditioner operates at 3,500 watts per hour when in use. This can add up to $460 per year when you consider that during the four warmest months of the year, the A/C is typically used for up to nine hours per day. In places like Texas, the cost per year could be more since it stays warmer longer.

Although it seems expensive, cooling your house is cheaper than heating it, so in the long run Texans fare better than their fellow Americans in the middle parts of the country who spend most of electricity bills cooling their homes in the summer and heating their homes during the rest of the year. Along with being conscious of the use of the A/C, several other tips may prove helpful in saving money on cooling costs (see here, here and here).

Electric Hot Water Heater – $781 per year

You are able to enjoy that hot shower after a long day at work thanks to your hot water heater. Electric water heaters pass an electric current through electrical-resistance heating elements. Typically, there is one element at the bottom of the tank, and one at the top, according to Popular Mechanics. The temperature of the water is controlled by a thermostat, much like the air conditioning and heating units in a home. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, hot water heaters use 18 percent of electricity costs, making it the second greatest electricity consuming appliance in the home. The average hot water heaters run for three hours per day, and energy-efficient hot water heaters cost roughly $781 per year to operate, according to SF Gate. That breaks down to an average of $65 per month.

Although hot water heaters use up a lot of electricity, there are some ways to reduce the cost of operating your hot water heater. If your hot water heater is old, it may be time to upgrade to a new, more energy-efficient model. When it comes to selecting one, there are a number of things to take into consideration. One easy tip for energy savings includes turning down the heat on your water heater, but there are countless others that will help you to minimize your spending.

Refrigerator – $78.84 per year

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Because refrigerators and freezers have to constantly be running in order to keep your food chilled, it can be hard to control the amount of energy they use or find ways to cut costs. Thankfully, because of improved efficiency, newer refrigerators are becoming cheaper to operate. One way to distinguish how efficient a refrigerator is is to check to see if it is Energy Star certified. This certification serves as an indicator to the fact that an appliance’s efficiency can help you to save money while also benefiting the environment as well.

The way a refrigerator and freezer operates is complex, but luckily as long as you keep your fridge temperature at the suggested 37 to 41 degrees Fahrenheit, your fridge should cost less than $7 per month to operate.

Washer & Dryer: $264 per year

Cleaning your clothes continues to get more convenient and efficient as the washer and dryer technology evolves. Washers use electricity to power a pump that pulls water into the machine in order to wash your clothes, and drains water out of the machine as the wash cycle ends. Electricity is also used to heat the water your clothes are washing in, and to spin the drum that agitates and washes your clothes (check out HowStuffWorks for more information on how your washer works). All of this adds up to about 36 cents of electricity used per load of laundry.

Dryers, on the other hand, use electricity to heat the air used to dry your clothes, as well as to spin the inner drum of the machine to aid in airflow. The average cost to dry one load of laundry is about 40 cents. This puts a full cycle of laundry at about 75 cents per load. If you wash and dry one load of laundry a day, it could cost you as much as $22 per month!

However, there are some easy ways to reduce the amount of money you spend on laundry each month. The first is to wash your clothes in cold water, which eliminates the electricity needed to heat the water. Second, you can line dry your clothes to save on dryer costs. You can also ensure your dryer is running efficiently by remembering to clean the lint tray. For a full list of energy-saving laundry tips, check out this blog post. Aside from reducing energy costs, there are additional ways to save money on laundry by switching detergents or changing water settings.

Dishwasher: $50 per year

Clothes cleaning is not the only process in the home that requires electricity, as many meals conclude with dishwashers being loaded and activated to begin cleaning dishware. On average, the use of this appliance is said to use up around 30 kWh/month. With each wash, the machine requires hot water and must reach scalding temperatures capable of sanitizing dishes. For those who rely on this process frequently or who have larger families that fill up the machine quickly, the cost can be even higher. The energy it takes to wash coupled with the duration of the cleaning will determine just how much the monthly cost comes out to.

When using the dishwasher, it is important to remember that its use can be optimized by filling it up instead of doing small loads. At the same time it is best to refrain from filling up the machine too much as this can reduce the effectiveness of the cleaning. For those who are between the dishwasher and hand washing, it is best to rely on the machine due to the fact that cleaning plates and utensils by hand actually causes more waste and costs both time and money.

Microwave: $25 per year

Though the frequency of its use can greatly vary from household to household, the microwave is still a source of electricity consumption and one that averages roughly 16 kWh of energy use per month. In comparison to other appliances, the microwave remains towards the bottom of the overall usage list as the substitute means of cooking combined with the shortened intervals of actual use allow individuals to keep electricity consumption low.

As a means of optimizing electricity use while cooking however, the microwave is a wise route to go as it on average uses three times less electricity per month than does the oven. This may prompt greater use, which would offset the cost of an oven and ultimately allow homeowners to save on electricity each month. Something to understand about the microwave is that because there are often periods in which it is not in use, during these times it should be unplugged. Vampire energy, the process by which powered down devices consume electricity, can cost about $0.24/month forcing you to spend unnecessarily.

Light Bulbs: $1.41/bulb per month

The simple act of lighting a room comes at a cost as payment occurs to supply the bulbs and fixtures throughout your home with electricity and to keep them illuminated. And today many people are missing out on savings as they continue to utilize incandescent bulbs, the most inefficient of all available light bulb varieties. These lights end up converting only around 20% of the energy they are supplied with to light while the rest is released as heat. The cost of this comes out to roughly six cents per hour to illuminate ten lights. When left on for just four hours a day everyday for a year, the total cost comes out to roughly $88. That is just ten light bulbs.

There are energy efficient light bulbs that can be used to cut the cost of lighting. These are referred to as light-emitting diodes or LED bulbs and unlike incandescent, roughly 80% of the electricity they receive becomes light. Among other benefits, LEDs have a longer life span, don’t emit heat, and are able to work in extreme temperatures. For those hoping to decrease the cost of lighting, making the switch is a simple way to save on costly appliances.  

How much electricity are your appliances costing you?

If you want to get a better idea of how much energy your home’s appliances are using check out this cost calculator from the Department of Energy! When you find which of your appliances is costing you the most, use these handy tips to slash your expenses.

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