what appliances use the most energy

What appliances use the most energy?

Not all appliances are made equal. Although every appliance in your home consumes energy, utilizing each one will have a different impact on your monthly electricity bill. Understanding which of your appliances use the most energy, as well as when they’re pulling power from the grid, can help you save substantially on your monthly utility bills.

The most energy-intensive appliances: what are they?

When you pay your electricity bills, what are you really paying for? According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), nearly a third of all residential electricity consumption powers space heating and cooling. In 2020, water heating accounted for 12 percent of all residential electricity consumption. Meanwhile, lighting and refrigeration combined accounted for an additional 10 percent of total residential electricity consumption.

Appliances that use the most energy in your home

AppliancePercent of total electricity use
Air conditioning16%
Space heaters15%
Water heaters12%
Television and consoles4%

Equally interesting as which appliances consume the most energy is which appliances consume the least amount of residential electricity. In 2020, computers and similar electronic devices only consumed 2 percent of all electricity used by residential houses. What’s more, aside from the power required to heat water, dishwashers and clothes washers actually consume a very small amount of electricity.

Where energy consumption truly adds up is with all of the minor, miscellaneous appliances that consume energy throughout the day. Some appliances, like ceiling fans, may have a very low electric load but stay on for long periods of time. Other appliances, such as hair dryers, have a high electric load, but only remain on for short periods of time. However, in both cases, the appliances are consuming enough electricity to make a real impact on monthly electricity bills.

Phantom loads

Interestingly, your appliances don’t just consume energy when they’re turned on. Many will still pull power even while off, a state known as standby power or referred to as “phantom load.” Although not as resource intensive as when your appliances are turned on, phantom loads can add up very quickly. In fact, the Natural Resource Defense Council estimated in 2015 that the cumulative impact of phantom loads in the US is $19 billion per year, or over $150 per household.

For example, even when turned off, your TV continues to pull electricity from the grid. This is because there is a small amount of electrical load required to ensure that your TV turns on when you click the power button on your remote. Similarly, phone or laptop chargers continue to pull from the grid when plugged in, even if they’re not actively charging any appliances.

Calculating your home’s energy consumption

The best source for calculating your home’s energy consumption is the Department of Energy’s Appliance and Home Electronic Energy Use calculator. First, you’ll need to make a comprehensive list of the appliances in your home that consume electricity. Next, take stock of how often you use each of those appliances over the course of a given month. By multiplying the amount of hours you use your appliances per month by the power consumed by those appliances (in Watts), you can quickly calculate the kilowatt-hour impact of each appliance you own.

From there, you can compare the kilowatt-hours required to run individual appliances to your overall, monthly electricity bill. If a certain appliance requires more electricity than it does in the average household – say, your water heating is 20 percent of your electricity bill, instead of 12 percent – then it’s worth making sure that the appliance is operating correctly or considering investing in an upgraded, more energy-efficient appliance.

Offset your energy use with solar

Regardless of your monthly energy consumption or the appliances that you own, the best way to reduce your electricity bill is to invest in solar. By installing solar panels on your property, you can offset your electricity consumption with freely produced energy from the sun. Curious how much you can save by going solar? Check out EnergySage’s free Solar Calculator to learn more about how solar can reduce your specific bill. Ready to take the next step? Register for the EnergySage Marketplace to receive free quotes from local, pre-screened solar installers to find the solar energy system that’s right for you.

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About Spencer Fields

Spencer is the Technology & Product Alliance Strategic Lead at EnergySage, where he wears many hats. A 10-year industry veteran (and a solar owner himself!), Spencer spent five years at Synapse Energy Economics before joining EnergySage, providing environmental, economic, and policy analysis for public interest groups. These days, he leads market and consumer intel and research for EnergySage. Spencer has degrees in Environmental Studies and Hispanic Studies from Brown University.