Saving Energy with EnergySage, part 4: Home appliances

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This post is the fourth in our series about how to save on your energy bills even when you’re spending more time at home, as the entire EnergySage team is, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic (here are the first, second, and third.) Continue to check our blog for more ideas for how you can take control of your energy bills in the coming weeks. 

Welcome to another installment of Saving Energy with EnergySage! For this video, EnergySage-er Sam Hill talks about home appliances that use a lot of electricity, and provides tips to minimize their usage. 

What appliances use the most electricity?

All appliances in your home consume energy, but it might surprise you to learn the degree to which electricity usage varies between one appliance and the next. While you probably use electronics like your laptop and cellphone charger every day, they consume minimal amounts of electricity compared to some appliances that you may use less frequently. Below are some of the home appliances responsible for using the most electricity:

Dryers

Clothes dryers consume a lot of electricity, especially compared to their washing counterparts. In fact, dryers use approximately 11X more electricity than a washer does for every hour of use. An easy way to cut down on this electricity usage is to try hang-drying your clothes rather than turning on the dryer. On the downside, it’ll take more time to dry your clothes, but that additional time is likely easier for you to handle while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you do run your dryer, try to make sure it’s with a full load of laundry to make the most out of the energy you use. 

While not as energy-intensive as a dryer, there are also actions you can take to minimize your electricity consumption while using your washing machine, such as washing your clothes with cold water as opposed to warm or hot water. According to the Department of Energy, this can help cut the energy load of a washer in half.

Refrigerators

Refrigerators use more electricity than other kitchen appliances, but are not something you want to unplug when not in use! However, there are a few ways to reduce the amount of energy required to keep your food cold, like minimizing the amount of time you keep the door to the fridge open, as well as some ways to improve the overall performance of your refrigerator, which we’ll discuss in the next blog post in this series. Additionally, if you have more than one refrigerator in your house, consider moving your perishable items into one fridge and occasionally unplugging the other to save electricity.

Space heaters & air conditioners

Space heating and cooling uses the most electricity by far, combined accounting for 31 percent of all residential electricity consumption in 2019. If you’re using a space heater right now, try to limit how often you turn it on, and use other methods to keep yourself warm–such as additional layers of clothing or blankets–when possible. Alternatively, if you’re dealing with humidity and using your air conditioner right now, consider using fans as an alternative if possible, as they consume much less electricity than your full AC unit.

How to estimate how much electricity your appliances use

It’s easy enough to calculate how much electricity certain household appliances use so long as you know it’s nameplate wattage and how often you use it.

Estimated annual electricity usage (kilowatt-hours, kWh) = (wattage of appliance x hours of use per day x days per year) / 1000

Let’s use a ceiling fan as an example. If your ceiling fan’s nameplate wattage is 35 W, it means that it draws 35 W of electricity when running. If you run your ceiling fan for 6 hours a day during the 92 days of summer, that fan will only use 19.32 kWh over the course of a year. (As a point of comparison, the average American household uses over 30 kWh per day.) 

Estimated annual electricity usage (kWh) = (35 W * 6 hours * 92 days) / 1000 = 19.32 kWh 

You can usually find the wattage of your appliances in manuals, or online in the product description. Alternatively, the Department of Energy provides a helpful calculator to estimate the electricity consumption of common household appliances; this calculator also provides the average annual cost of using each appliance based on the average electricity rate in your state.

Additional EnergySage resources for understanding electricity

If you’d like to dig deeper into ways to better understand your electricity usage, ideas for reducing your energy consumption, and longer descriptions of utility charges, we’ve got you covered. Here are a few resources to check out:

Stay safe out there!

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About Kerry Thoubboron

Kerry has worked in solar for 5 years, starting out as an Energy Advisor helping customers compare their options and, ultimately, make well-informed solar decisions. She graduated from Boston University with a degree in Environmental Analysis and Policy. Outside of work, you can find Kerry snowboarding, watching The Office, or having passionate debates about which New England state is best (spoiler: it's Vermont).

One thought on “Saving Energy with EnergySage, part 4: Home appliances

  1. Alexandra Amonette

    Hi,
    Thank you very much for this information.
    Do you have a recommendation about energy efficient vacuum cleaners?
    I really appreciate your organization and your writers.

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