Today’s household amenities have made life more comfortable than ever, however the cost of modern living can be considerable, and not just monetarily. Many common home appliances can swallow up enormous amounts of energy. The residential sector’s biggest electricity gluttons are the staples of everyday life, with the average US household using approximately 900 kilowatt-hours of energy every month. Prices per kilowatt-hour average around 13 cents nationwide, which means a typical American household pays about $1,400 each year in electricity costs.
While energy efficiency has improved dramatically in recent decades, the following appliances still rank among today’s top energy guzzlers.
Among the top energy consumers in the home are refrigerators, which, depending on the unit’s size and age, can consume anywhere from 30 to 200 kilowatt hours per month (kWh/month). Many refrigerators built before the turn of the century are still in use today, and their monthly kilowatt hours generally number in the hundreds. In contrast, the majority of post-2001 models run at much lower consumption levels, and only use hundreds of kilowatt hours over the course of an entire year.
Water heaters are tapped for a multitude of tasks throughout the day, from showers to dishwashing and laundry. Associated energy costs are unsurprisingly high, hovering, on average, at around 300 kWh/month. Expenses are dependent upon factors like total water use and preferred shower and laundry temperatures, as well as the heater’s type, i.e. standard, solar heated, tankless, etc., and design (amount of insulation on heater and pipes). Installing a drain water heat exchanger can also save costs by recapturing some of the energy from hot water as it drains.
Around 87% of American homes are now equipped with either a room-based or central air conditioning unit. As with most appliances, energy use ranges greatly depending upon unit type; window units expend 200-650 kWh/month, while heat pumps can use up to 1,8000 kWh/month. Central air conditioners hold the middle ground, with an average monthly usage of 300-900 kWh/month. Other factors include unit capacity, operating time and efficiency rating. Closing certain unused vents or using a timed thermostat can help reduce energy wastage.
Home heating systems work overtime during cold winter months, and as such, are among the most energy-greedy home appliances. Gas furnaces, Baseboard heaters, portable units, heat pumps, and electric furnaces are a few popular heater varieties. For the non-gas heaters, Electricity consumption fluctuates by model type as well, from 500 to as much as 3,500 kWh/month.
How to Save
US Department of Energy policies introduced in the early 2000s require appliances to be tested and labeled according to their energy efficiency. EnergyGuide labels on appliances list total energy usage, as well as cost estimates. Energy Star certified appliances are backed by the EPA and guaranteed to consume less than conventional products.