Everybody knows appliances that use electricity contribute to your monthly bill, but which ones consume the most energy? In order to start reducing your consumption, you need to learn which appliances in your home are the biggest culprits.
Not to mention, your choice of appliances has never been more important because energy prices are on the rise. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, national residential electricity rates have risen by 8%, with some states experiencing as much as a 15% rise in 2022.
Now is the perfect time to consider your appliances’ electricity usage and take a good hard look at what appliances use the most energy in your home. In this post, we’ll examine exactly what uses the most electricity in a home and how you can limit your energy consumption.
What Appliances Use the Most Energy?
Determining which appliances use the most electricity depends on the number of kilowatt hours an appliance consumes. Note that in this guide, we will not be focusing on dollar amounts; rather, we’ll be focusing on the level of energy consumption.
Finding out what uses the most electricity in your home can help you make an informed decision on your usage and whether it’s time to invest in more energy-efficient options.
Heating is by far the biggest contributor to energy consumption in any household — and that applies to heaters of all kinds. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), space heaters alone consist of up to 42% of residential energy consumption and 36% of commercial buildings.
From a heating perspective, how many kilowatts you consume depends on how much you run your heater and on which setting you run it. As part of conducting an energy audit at home, the key to lower energy consumption is insulation. How well is your home keeping the heat in? Heating efficiency is largely impacted by whether you have insulation or not and where that insulation is.
Homeowners today will either use loose-fill insulation in older homes because of how easy it is to install, whereas new homes will typically be built using spray foam. It’s important to consider wall, floor, basement, attic, and ceiling insulation.
If you notice any cold air flowing through your home, chances are there’s a breach in your insulation or a window/door has a crack in it. Proper insulation will enable you to run your heating at a lower setting for shorter periods of time to maintain a comfortable temperature.
Hot water is essential to any home — nobody likes a freezing cold shower. Yet that water heater may be putting the heat on your bank account as well. In fact, water heating accounts for approximately 20% of household energy usage. As the second biggest consumer of electricity in the home, choosing an energy-efficient solution is pivotal to reducing your consumption.
Don’t worry, you don’t need to start taking cold showers every day. One way to manage the problem is to invest in a tankless water heater. Tankless water heaters are designed to only heat water as and when required, rather than heating the whole tank and letting hot water go cold again.
If you have the money, you may also want to consider installing a solar water heater. Solar water heaters are better for the environment and enable you to use our most precious natural resource for your energy needs. These solar water heaters range between $3,000 and $9,000 in cost for the basic parts and installation.
Depending on where you live, you may find that your state or municipality has tax-based incentives for residents to invest in solar-powered water heaters. You can also look into solar renewable energy credits. But starting in 2023, it's safe to say you’ll receive a 30% tax credit for all energy-efficient & clean-energy home improvements through the Inflation Reduction Act.
Central Air Conditioners
Nothing beats the feeling of coming home on a hot summer day and flipping on the AC. However, a single two-ton central air conditioner can consume 1,450 kWh per month, which is a massive amount. People in warmer states may find that this is their biggest contributor to high energy bills during the summer.
As part of finding out what uses the most energy in your home, an energy audit will likely show that your air conditioner is a massive contributor. Thankfully, cooling a house requires far less energy than heating it. Like with your heating systems, insulation will help to keep cool air inside. You may also want to think about weatherstripping your home to seal up those cracks and gaps.
Today’s HVAC units are surprisingly efficient, with many modern units reaching 98% efficiency. Look for the ENERGY STAR certification when investing in air-conditioning units.
Some appliances can just never be turned off, and that’s that. The refrigerator is the best example of this type of appliance. That’s why when it comes to which appliances use the most electricity, it’s important to invest in energy-efficient models for the ones you simply can’t turn off.
Older units will always consume more than newer units. Smart refrigerators are highly recommended for this problem because they will automatically alert the owner if something is wrong, such as if the appliance is consuming more electricity than expected.
Generally speaking, refrigerators consume 7% of all electricity in the average residential home, so it pays to make the switch to a more energy-efficient model.
Washers & Dryers
Your washer and dryer are among the appliances that use the most electricity in a home. What uses the most electricity out of the two? The dryer is by far the least efficient because it uses a lot of heat while it’s working. While everybody needs to wash their clothes, there are steps you can take to reduce consumption. For example, try line-drying your clothes outside or buying an indoor air-drying rack instead of using the dryer.
Naturally, your washing machine is a bit harder to limit the usage of. However, you can reduce the energy consumption of your washing machine by operating it at lower temperatures or opting for a cold wash.
It’s not just important to be conscious of how you use these appliances, you must also be aware of when you run these appliances. Wait until you have a full hamper before pressing the “On” button. The fewer times you run these appliances, the less energy you will consume. Moreover, remember that if you run these appliances less, they will last longer, saving you money in the long run.
Your lighting choices will also save you money. According to the EPA, lighting covers 15% of an average home’s electricity usage. The cost of lighting your home will vary wildly depending on not only your usage but your lighting choices.
It probably feels like there are thousands of types of lighting out there, and it’s true, you do have a lot of options. But remember this: the most inefficient bulbs are incandescent. These traditional light bulbs produce a familiar yellow/orange hue, but they also produce a tremendous amount of heat.
With so many bulb options available, it isn’t always clear which lighting choice is the best. What is obvious is that LED bulbs are the greenest choice available. While they cost more per bulb, they can save you up to $225 in energy costs per year. Moreover, LED bulbs are designed to last longer, so you will need to replace them 25 times less often than you would with an older incandescent bulb.
Dishwashers are often marketed as low-energy appliances, but this isn’t necessarily true. They conceal their true energy consumption because the machine itself uses very little in the way of direct electricity. For example, the average dishwasher will use an estimated 1,200 watts of electricity per load through its pump and control system, which is roughly the same as a blow dryer.
However, most of a dishwasher’s energy consumption comes from piggybacking off the hot water heater. How much energy it harnesses from the hot water heater depends on the model of your dishwasher, how often you run it, which cycle you choose, and so on.
For example, a 1994 dishwasher used 10 to 15 gallons of water per load, whereas today’s dishwashers use less than four gallons per load if they’re certified by ENERGY STAR.
The obvious solution to reduce your carbon footprint is to hand wash your dishes, but if this inconvenience is a little too much for your household, invest in a newer system certified by ENERGY STAR.
Additionally, you should also only run your dishwasher when you have a full load. One of the worst things you can do for your energy bill is to run your dishwasher multiple times when it’s half empty.
Who doesn’t love a day of binging TV on the couch? But after a while, you may be feeling a bit guilty about having this electronic device running all day. So, how much electricity does a TV use?
Modern TVs will use an average of 58.6 watts when switched on and just 1.3 watts when on standby. TVs will consume an average of 106.9 kWh per year, which translates to less than $20 in today’s world.
Upgrade to a modern smart TV, limit the amount of time you watch, and unplug the TV when you’re not using it. Every little bit helps!
Go Solar with Nexamp
Discovering what appliances use the most energy in your home can help you find a way to reduce your impact on the environment. While reducing energy usage may require an initial investment in energy-efficient appliances, adopting a climate-first approach can help you cut your bills and go green.
If you’re looking for more ways to help combat the climate crisis, consider joining Nexamp’s Community Solar program. You can save 10-20 percent on electricity costs annually and support your community with clean energy. The more steps we take toward an emission-free economy, the better off we’ll all be.
Take action you can be proud of today!