They sit there innocently day after day. Storing your food, washing your clothes and keeping you entertained. All the time they’re sucking at your power supply, drawing precious energy whilst your monthly bill ticks ever higher.
The average U.S. household uses almost 11,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, the majority of which is used for heating and cooling. However, appliances make up around 31 percent of this energy use – almost double that of thirty years ago – despite improvements in energy efficiency. Technology has taken over our lives, and we’re paying the price.
Say hello to the energy leeches in your home.
Number 5: Small electronic gadgets
The average household has 25 electronic devices plugged in at any one time, ranging from microwaves to cell phones. They may not use much power individually, but add up the electricity used by all these gadgets and you may be surprised what it’s costing you.
Sure, it’s a pain turning everything off after you’ve used it, but there are a couple of easier solutions:
- Group appliances on a power strip with an on/off switch
- Use plug with a timer on it to set your devices to turn off automatically at night and back on in the morning
- Use a smart plug, such as the SmartThings SmartPower Outlet that lets you switch appliances on and off from your phone or laptop.
Number 4: Computers
How many computers and monitors do you have in your home? Data shows that the average U.S. household has three personal computers (not including monitors and tablets).
Unless they’re fully switched off at the wall, these devices will continue to use power, even in standby mode. And don’t forget the printer and other accessories. Energy suckers, the lot of ‘em.
Number 3: Clothes dryers
There’s no denying clothes dryers are pretty handy, particularly if you have a large family. But they’re one of the biggest energy leeches in your home. Running a clothes dryer for just half an hour a day adds up to around $61 a year.
So stop and think before automatically loading your laundry into the dryer. Can you hang dry it instead, or, even better, hang it outside to dry? Every load you hang up is extra cents in your pocket.
Number 2: Televisions and home entertainment
Televisions and home entertainment systems are the second biggest users of electricity in U.S. households (excluding heating, cooling and lighting). That big plasma TV you’ve got could be sucking up 1,400 kilowatt hours annually. That’s a whopping $150.
Televisions, game consoles, cable boxes and stereos are notorious energy leeches and the only way to stop their vampire-like behaviors is to turn them off. Completely off.
Power strips and smart plugs are your friends here. You can also turn the brightness setting down on your television so it uses less energy. If you frequently record shows, then plug your cable box into a separate outlet so you can turn everything else off without worrying about missing an episode.
Number 1: Refrigerators and freezers
You may think that refrigerators and freezers use relatively small amounts of electricity compared to other appliances on this list. And you would be right. But don’t forget that they are the only appliance on this list that has to be on every hour of every day. Which makes your ancient, beloved Smeg fridge top of the energy consumption chart.
If you’re one of the 60 million households whose refrigerator is over ten years old, you could save $260 over five years by switching to a more efficient model. The ENERGY STAR website has a handy calculator tool to help you work out exactly how much you’ll save.
Upgrade and save cash
Energy efficient appliances cost less to run. While it may be tempting to get the cheapest appliance you can find, make sure you take into account both:
- The cost of purchase (upfront cost); and
- The cost of running the appliance (which you’ll pay as part of your electricity bill).
Calculating both these costs will tell you which appliance is the best deal over its lifetime.
Most new appliances will have a yellow and black EnergyGuide label – this will tell you the estimated yearly energy consumption and operating cost. To get a more accurate estimate of the operating cost, multiply the annual energy consumption by the price you pay for electricity per kilowatt-hour (this will be on your utility bill). Then multiply this by the lifetime of the appliance. For example, refrigerators and clothes dryers typically have a lifespan of 12 years, clothes washers 11 years and dishwashers 10 years.
Look for ENERGY STAR certification
ENERGY STAR certified appliances go significantly beyond the minimum federal energy efficiency standards. If you buy an appliance with the ENERGY STAR logo on it, you know you’re getting a more efficient model with cheaper running costs.
That may be partly offset by a higher purchase price, but if you’re investing in new appliances, check out the ENERGY STAR appliances calculator to see what the best deal is for you.
Depending on where you live, you may be able to get a utility incentive for buying new, energy efficient appliances or recycling your old model. You can find out what’s on offer in your area on the ENERGY STAR rebate finder.