Sure, the HVAC system is the biggest energy hog in a home, but what about the appliances?
There are a number of things that can affect how much energy an appliance uses. It can be a matter of needing a substantial energy supply to power the appliance, the amount of time the appliance is used and even how the appliance is used.
Luckily, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) has been tracking the data for consumers so we can get a better idea of what’s using the most energy in our homes. Here’s a list of the top five appliances based on energy use along with explanations of why they use so much energy and what you can do about it.
#1 – Water Heater – 12% of Your Energy Bill
The most energy intensive process in a home after heating and cooling the air is heating water. Roughly 12% of a household’s energy bill is from the water heater. Heating water is energy intensive, but the type of water heater you have makes a huge difference.
Electric water heaters use the most energy at 310–500 kWh per month. Heat pumps use between 77 and 112 kWh per month depending on their size. Instantaneous water heaters offer the best efficiency. They can use as little as 12 kWh per month.
If you aren’t in the market for a new water heater there are a few things you can do to reduce energy use. The first thing to do is check the temperature setting. Manufacturers often set water heaters temperature at 140º F, but turning it down to 120º F can reduce energy use anywhere from 4-22% annually.
#2 – Refrigerator – 4-6% of Your Energy Bill
It makes sense that refrigerators would be towards the top of the list given that they must constantly run to do their job. In total, refrigerators account for about 6% of your energy bill.
You can’t cut the power to the refrigerator, but there are a number of ways to use your refrigerator so that it’s as energy efficient as possible. You’ll want to keep your refrigerator well stocked, because when there’s more in the fridge there’s less open space to cool off. Of course, minimizing how often the refrigerator is opened also helps.
Maintenance is another key to making your refrigerator as energy efficient as possible. Keeping the vents clean and making sure everything is operable will have a noticeable effect on the energy use.
#3 – Clothes Dryer – 3-4% of Your Energy Bill
If people knew how much energy clothes dryers used they may line dry their clothes more often. Even though the clothes dryer is on a fraction of the time compared to a refrigerator it uses almost the same amount of electricity. Each load that you dry will use 2-4 kWh of electricity.
In addition to line drying more of your clothes, the best thing you can do to reduce use is make sure the dryer is fully loaded. It’s also a good idea to separate out towels and other heavy materials that will throw off the drying sensor and extend the drying time.
#4 – Television and Entertainment Equipment – 3% of Your Energy Bill
Even though federal and state regulations have led to much more energy efficient entertainment equipment is still among the top appliances for energy use. Part of the problem is vampire energy consumption. This is when appliances draw energy even though they’re turned off because they are in standby mode.
There are also more components to today’s entertainment system. It’s not uncommon for an entertainment system to have a television, Blu-Ray or DVD player, DVR box and streaming device.
One thing that you can do to minimize energy use is to put your entertainment system appliances on a smart power strip. They can reduce standby power consumption by cutting the power completely. You can also use a smart power strip to put the entertainment system on a timer, and some strips can even detect when someone is in the room to supply power as needed.
#5 – Freezers – 1.5-2% of Your Energy Bill
If you have a freezer at home it’s going to use more energy than most other appliances. Like the refrigerator, freezers run constantly to keep food frozen. But a freezer is more efficient than a refrigerator, mostly because it isn’t opened and closed regularly. That helps a freezer maintain its temperature so less energy is needed.
Many of the same energy saving strategies that are used for refrigerators apply to freezers as well. If you are purchasing a new freezer look for one with Energy Star certification. Energy Star freezers provide the same level of performance but use less energy.
If you want all of the modern day conveniences appliances provide it’s going to cost you in the form of energy. You can’t eliminate energy use with your appliances, but you can reduce the environmental impact with a renewable energy plan from Verde. Check to see if a green energy plan is available in your area!