Best and Worst Appliances for Your Electric Bill

Here’s a fun energy fact – appliances and electronics account for 45 percent of a home’s energy use. The Energy Information Administration’s latest residential energy use survey found air conditioning and space heating were still the biggest electricity consumption categories, but some appliances weren’t far behind.

The type of appliances you have and how you use them has a direct impact on your monthly electric bill. Keep reading to find out if your appliances are energy efficient or electricity offenders.

Best: ENERGY STAR Appliances

Doing away with some appliances isn’t realistic for the vast majority of people. The next best thing is owning appliances that have earned the ENERGY STAR designation. ENERGY STAR appliances meet EPA energy efficiency standards, which means they consume less energy than non-certified machines.                

Another benefit of ENERGY STAR appliances is that the EPA provides specific information on energy consumption. It’s very handy if you’re buying new appliances and want to maximize energy efficiency. Bonus Benefit: you might be eligible for rebates if you purchase ENERGY STAR appliances!           

Worst: Storage Water Heater

No single appliance uses as much electricity as the water heater. It accounts for 14 percent of energy consumption in a household. Older storage tank water heaters that aren’t insulated are going to be the least efficient. Heat pump and solar water heaters tend to be the most efficient options. The water heater’s temperature setting also has a huge impact on energy usage no matter what type you use. Keep it at 120 degrees Fahrenheit for comfort and energy efficiency.

*Good to know: Part of the reason water heaters carry so much of the energy load is that it includes the energy needed for dishwashers and clothes dryers.

Best: Dishwasher

The water heater used to warm water to clean dishes may be an energy suck, but the dishwasher isn’t. Dishwashers make up just 1 percent of residential electricity usage. To keep energy use at a minimum always run full loads and forgo the drying cycle.                   

Worst: Refrigerators

Refrigeration is the biggest energy consumer of all the kitchen appliances. At 6 percent of total electricity use, refrigerators use way more electricity than all the other major kitchen appliances combined (microwave 1 percent, stove 1 percent, dishwasher 1 percent). When you consider that a refrigerator has to constantly run this makes sense.

There are easy things you can do to keep energy use in check while still keeping food cold. For starters, try to fully stock the fridge. The more void space there is the more energy is required to maintain the cold temperature. And it’s a good idea to check the temperature setting. It should be kept around 38 degrees Fahrenheit. While you’re at it, make sure the automatic defroster is set (if available) and put the fridge in power-saving mode to limit the amount of time the anti-sweat feature is used.

Best: Front Loading Washing Machine

The clothes dryer may be an energy hog, but washing machines are surprisingly efficient. Only 1 percent of annual electricity use comes from the washing machine. The low usage rate is aided by the growing popularity of front-loading washing machines, also known as high-efficiency washing machines.

In tests performed by the EPA and Consumer Reports, front loaders proved to be more energy efficient than top loaders. They can be up to 60 percent more energy efficient than traditional washing machines and use 40-60 percent less water.

Worst: Clothes Dryer

Refrigerators are followed closely by the clothes dryer in terms of how much energy is used. The EIA Annual Energy Outlook 2019 projections estimate that clothes dryers will be 5 percent of total residential electricity use. This is significant considering clothes dryers don’t continuously run like refrigerators.

The best thing you can do is minimize clothes dryer use by drying laundry the old fashion way – hanging them on a clothesline. ENERGY STAR clothes dryers are the next best option. They’ve been available since 2014 and use approximately 20 percent less energy. The EPA estimates that if all clothes dryers in the U.S. were ENERGY STAR rated it would save at least $1.5 billion a year.

Estimating Appliance Energy Use

There are a lot of variables that go into how much energy an appliance uses, like age and settings. Where appliances are located in a house can even make a difference.

Not sure which appliances are drawing the most energy in your home? The first thing you can do is check your energy bill. If you have a smart meter it should provide details on your energy use that can help you figure out appliance consumption. You can also use the U.S. Department of Energy’s Appliance Energy Calculator.

Not getting energy use estimates from your current electricity provider? Make the switch to Provider Power to receive in-depth reports and advice on how to reduce your energy use!

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