Green Lifestyle

Published on February 18th, 2015 | by Peter Young


Which appliance uses the most energy? Breaking Down Home Energy Usage


Concerned about your home energy usage? Is it the A/C? The refrigerator? Pool pump? Finding which appliance uses the most energy in a home is a tricky investigation, but the rewards are good. Every month millions of Americans pay a fee to their local utility companies for the energy they use throughout their homes, many times paying far too much for one or more very inefficient appliances. In addition, using more energy in one area of your home might actually be causing you to use more in another! A great way to think about the energy usage throughout your home is to think of it like an interconnected system, where the sum is greater than its parts. To help illustrate this idea, the good folks at Hawaiian Electric have come up with the following energy usage guide for your home:

Breaking down your home’s energy usage

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From “Power to Save” publication from Hawaiian Electric Company


First, let’s start by taking a look at the five biggest contributors (as outlined by the chart above) to your home’s monthly electric bill. As you can see the biggest culprits when it comes to energy usage are your A/C systems, water heaters, secondary refrigerators, lighting and home entertainment centers. Curious just how much money they’re costing you per year? Check out the following figures (assuming that the cost per kWh is $.34):

  • A/C (central system) – $1,445
  • Water heater – $952
  • Second refrigerator – $680
  • Lighting – $544
  • Home entertainment systems – $408

Now, not everyone’s annual electric bill will fall in line with the numbers that we listed above (due to where you live, variations in the types of appliances, hours used per day and energy ratings of those appliances) but it’s clear to see that one’s energy bill can add up quick! However, the five appliances that we’ve called out above are just the tip of the iceberg; so to get a better idea of the monthly cost of other appliances and electronics in your home, click on the following thumbnails:

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How energy usage in one area can impact another

Let’s take this one step further and look at how using more energy in one area of your home may cause you to use more in another. To do this, let’s look at the relationship between your lighting and A/C. If your home features a central A/C system, which is designed to monitor your home’s temperature and keep it within a certain temperature range, the use of incandescent lightbulbs may be causing it to work harder than it has to. Incandescent lighting is notorious for producing more heat than it does light (in fact, 90% of the energy that an incandescent lightbulb consumes comes off as heat and not light!). As a result, the lightbulbs will be adding heat to your home which will cause the temperature to rise, and your A/C to work harder to offset the rise in ambient temperature.

As you can see, the home is a dynamic place when it comes to energy usage and it’s best to think of it in terms of an interconnected system.

If you’re looking for ways to make your home more energy efficient, be sure to check out our green home improvement projects!

Related links for Energy Efficiency in the Home

4 Tips for Energy Efficiency in the Bathroom
Energy Efficiency for the Kitchen
Optimizing your radiator for efficiency
How To Use Your Washer And Dryer More Efficiently
How To Use Timers In Your Home For Maximum Energy Efficiency
9 Energy Saving Tips For Efficient Cooking
5 Effective Tips for Hanging Clothes to Dry Inside
Setting the Temperature in Your Fridge/Freezer for Maximum Efficiency
Green Living with Energy Efficient Light Bulbs

Photo courtesy of the Flickr Creative Commons (Power lines)

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About the Author

graduated from Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) with a degree in journalism and has made sustainability and eco-conscious living mainstays of both his professional and personal life. It was during his time at PLU that he began his journey with sustainability and it's what has led him to writing for Green Living Ideas. He currently resides in Honolulu and works for Pono Home, an energy efficiency company focused on reducing carbon emissions and promoting a healthier, greener lifestyle.

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