Who's Hogging the Energy in Your Home?

You know the home electronics and appliances in your house eat up the electricity you pay for each month, but you might not have a sense of which ones have the biggest appetites.

Watt Are They Using?

The first step is to learn how many watts your electronics and appliances consume. You can usually find the wattage stamped on the bottom or back of the device or on its nameplate. The wattage listed is the maximum power the device draws. Since many appliances have a range of settings (for example, the volume on a radio), the actual amount of power consumed can vary.

Typical Wattages for Common Appliances

Here are nameplate wattages for many household electronics and appliances, from highest to lowest users (from the US government's energy information website, https://www.eere.energy.gov/):

More than 1000 watts  
Water heater (40 gallon) 4500-5500
Clothes dryer 1800-5000
Toaster oven 1225
Dishwasher 1200-2400
Hair dryer 1200-1875
Clothes iron 1000-1800
Vacuum cleaner 1000-1440
Under 1000 watts  
Coffee maker 900-1200
Toaster 800-1400
Dehumidifier 785
Fan, furnace 750
Heater (portable) 750-1500
Microwave oven 750-1100
Refrigerator (frost-free, 16 cubic feet) 725
Clothes washer 350-500
Water pump (deep well) 250-1100
Fan, whole house 2400750
Television, projection, 53-61 inch 170
Computer monitor (awake/asleep) 150/30 or less
Television, 36 inch 133
Computer CPU (awake/asleep) 120/30
Water bed (with heater, no cover) 120-380
Television, flat screen 120
Television, 27 inch 113
Under 100 watts  
Radio (stereo) 70-400
Fan, ceiling fan 65-175
Television, 19 inch 65-110
Electric blanket single/double 60/100
Aquarium 50-1210
Fan, window 55-250
Laptop computer 50
DVD 20-25
VCR 17-21
Clock radio 10

Factor In the Time On

For a truer picture of energy consumed, look beyond the wattage — factor in how long the device is on. The television that consumes 100 watts and is on for 4 hours a day contributes more to your electric bill than does the 1000-watt clothes iron you use for 15 minutes a month (when you decide to wear that cotton shirt to a nice restaurant).

To figure out how much each device costs each month, take a look at your electric bill to find out you much your electric utility charges per kilowatt-hour (kwh — or check their website. Then follow these steps:

1. Divide the wattage (either from the nameplate or from the table above) by 1000 to convert watts to kilowatts.

2. Multiply the kilowatts by the number of hours the device is on each day to find the daily kwh consumed. So the 100 watt television (or 0.1 kilowatt) that runs 4 hours a days uses 0.4 kwh. (Assume your refrigerator runs 8 hours a day, because refrigerators cycle on and off).

3. Multiply the device's kwh by how much your local utility charges per kwh to learn how much it costs you each day.

You can also calculate the use per month, season or year. For example, a window fan that consumes 200 watts (0.2 kilowatts) and runs 4 hours a day during the summer (120 days) costs $8.16 for the summer if electricity costs 8.5 cents per kwh.

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