June 30, 2015
Since 2009, the average annual energy bill for an American household has been approximately $100 a month—$2200 a year. Of course that is an average, and the real numbers of your energy bill depend on the size of your home, local climate, what appliances you own, and how they are used.
But no matter where you live, these are the appliances that consume the most energy in a home:
1. HVAC. Heating and cooling a home accounts for about half of all annual energy costs. In general, heating a home in winter consumes about 30% of an annual energy bill, while cooling a home in summer consumes roughly 20%. That info proves why it is so important to maintain your HVAC unit and optimize its use. An annual HVAC checkup, changing air filters, sealing ducts, properly using a wireless thermostat (many of which come with available incentives and rebates), and other steps will optimize this energy-hungry appliance. If your unit is outdated, look into newer, more energy-efficient models, many of which come with rebates.
2. Water Heater. The water heater is involved in the most important activities in your house that require water: bathing, running a dishwasher, washing clothes. Those activities—and more—combine to make up an average 15% of home energy use. If you have an older model, research new ones for offers of incentives and rebates. Other devices can help save money and energy, including low-flow showerheads, one of the most cost-effective measures available for cutting down water use.
3. Washer & Dryer. Your washer and dryer are two of the most important and energy-hungry appliances in your home. On average, these two units eat up about 13% of your energy consumption. You can maximize the use of your washing machine by ensuring you only run full loads. Get the most out of your dryer by cleaning the lint filter after every use.
4. Lights. They’re everywhere. Inside, outside, in bedrooms, kitchens, and basements. Some you might leave on all day long—by habit or practice. Lights are the fourth most-hungry appliance in your home, generally accounting for about 12% of your annual energy use. One of the best ways to cut down on costs related to lighting is to upgrade to CFL or LED light bulbs.
5. Electric Oven. Chances are you use your oven and range every single day. They are a staple of life. Fortunately, they aren’t very power hungry—they make up only about 5% of energy use a year. But you can still maximize their use, particularly the oven, by making sure you don’t let it pre-heat for long periods of time or keep it on after you’re done using it. Avoid using the oven to reheat foods, as its size prevents it from efficiently heating small portions.
6. Refrigerator. It’s pretty hard to live without a refrigerator, and fortunately, it doesn’t use up a massive amount of energy, accounting for only about 4% of your energy use a year. No matter the model, you can optimize its use by keeping it full of products; this will help keep it cool when you open the door, particularly in the summer when hot air around an open fridge can lower its temperature.
7. Television. TVs and their components—cable boxes, DVD players —can slowly but steadily drain energy— even when they are in standby mode. On average, their use comes out to about 2% of an annual energy bill. But certain types eat up even more energy. Studies have found plasma TVs to be particularly energy-hungry. Using an appropriate power strip can help cut down on this wasted energy.
Using appliances efficiently throughout the year is one of the best ways to reduce your annual energy bills. To learn more tips for maximizing your appliances’ efficiency, read the article “How to Change Your HVAC Filter.”