What Appliances Use The Most Electricity In A Household

What Appliances Use The Most Electricity In A Household

Often we buy home appliances without considering the cost of running them. Do you know that for some energy-guzzling devices, the annual running cost exceeds their price?

This may come as a surprise to many as your utility bill doesn’t offer you an appliance-wise breakup. The easiest way to check this is to compare the before and after installation energy bills.

That said, it would be unfair to club all home appliances in one bracket. You need to have a fair idea of how much energy an appliance will consume every month before going ahead with the purchase.

So, what are the appliances that use the most energy?

This article will help you understand the “technical details” of home appliances so that you won’t be in for a rude shock when the energy bill arrives. Let’s see the uses of electricity in the home. 

How to identify the maximum energy users?

If you know what to look for and how to separate the chaff from the wheat, this is not that hard. Let’s make a list of the common home appliances seen in an average household.

  1. HVAC system
  2. Water heater
  3. Refrigerator
  4. Washer- dryer
  5. Electric oven & stove
  6. Dishwasher
  7. Television & electronic entertainment
  8. Computer, laptops, mobile phones
  9. Lighting 

A light bulb, even the energy-wasting incandescent bulbs, doesn’t consume the same power as a water heater or a dishwasher. For comparison, the energy consumption for the same duration, say one hour, is considered. 

So, the next question is how to calculate the energy consumption per hour of an appliance?

All electrical devices will have their wattage mentioned in the “technical details”. Multiplying the wattage of the device with the hours of use will give you the energy consumed by the device for the said period. 

For example, a 3000-watt water heater running for two hours will consume 3000×2=6000 watt-hour of electricity. That is, 6 kWh for two hours. An LED bulb of 20 watts switched on for 2 hours will consume 20×2=40 watt-hour of electricity. 

From this, it is clear that the higher the wattage of the appliance or device, the higher the energy consumed. The wattage of an electrical device is usually displayed prominently on the device itself. 

This is a clearcut method to understand the energy usage of a device.

It is also possible to generalize high energy users among home appliances. They all have one thing in common – heating or cooling. Any device that raises or lowers the temperature, irrespective of the purpose, consumes more energy than appliances without these features. Between heating and cooling, heating takes up more energy.

So, furnaces, water heaters, washing machines, dishwashers, and electric ovens use up more energy than refrigerators or television. Do you know that air-conditioners use less energy than furnaces or boilers? It takes less energy to remove heat and cool a room in summer than to maintain the same level of heat in the winter in the same room. 

So, the rule of thumb to identify a power guzzler is to look for the heating element in it.

Let’s take each one of the home appliances listed above and calculate its average monthly energy consumption. Let’s also discuss how to improve the energy efficiency of these devices.

How to calculate the energy consumption of common devices?

HVAC system

The HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system combines the functionality of the air conditioners and furnaces. In any household, this is the maximum energy user, whether it is summer or winter. In an average household, an HVAC system accounts for about 50% of energy usage, as per the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) data. 

Depending on the wattage and efficiency of the unit and the functionality selected, it can consume 24-72 kWh or even more in 24 hours. This means 720-2160 kWh per month. When it is on fan mode, the energy consumption will be minimum and when it is on heating mode, the consumption will be maximum.

Tips to reduce the energy consumption 

  • Switch on air-conditioning/heating only when needed. 
  • Install ceiling fans as they consume less energy.
  • Use multi-directional ceiling fans, choosing clockwise in the winter and counterclockwise in the summer.
  • Draw the curtains to prevent interiors from getting warmer in summer. Open the curtains to let the sunlight warm the interiors in the winter.
  • Ensure it is maintained well with regular servicing.
  • Change air filters periodically.
  • Make sure the vents are not blocked.
  • Keep the unit clean to prevent clogging.
  • Dress for the season – lightly in summer and warmly in winter.
  • Layer clothes, wear scarves, use extra blankets in winter.

Water heater

If you are living in a place with severe winter, the water heater is another energy guzzler. Though most of the time it will be on standby, just maintaining the temperature of the water, its average daily energy consumption is estimated to be 13.5-18kWh, depending on the quantity of hot water used. This comes to 405-540 kWh per month.

Tips to reduce energy consumption

  • Take a shower instead of a bath.
  • Set the temperature at 120℉ or lower.
  • Use an insulation jacket to prevent heat loss from old water heaters.
  • Use insulation tapes to prevent heat loss from water pipes.
  • Reduce the setting or turn off the water heater when not being used for long periods.
  • Install water-saving faucets and showerheads to bring down water consumption.
  • Install a solar water heater.


This is another appliance that runs 24×7. The average wattage of a regular-sized refrigerator is 250 watts. This adds up to 6 kWh per day and 180 kWh per month. Indeed, you cannot turn it off or reduce the settings of a refrigerator. However, if you pay attention to some details, you can increase its efficiency, reduce energy consumption, and save money.

Tips to reduce energy consumption

  • Arrange things inside as suggested by the manufacturer.
  • Don’t overcrowd it or cram things inside.
  • Keep things that you use regularly in easy-to-access positions.
  • Keep the settings at the recommended level.
  • Clean the dust accumulating behind and underneath to ensure good airflow.
  • If your refrigerator is too old, switch to newer energy-efficient ones.

Washer- dryer

Most people don’t use their washing machines daily, which is actually a good way to save energy. The washing cycle consumes less energy while the dryer consumes more. Again, if you are using the heating feature during the washing cycle, the energy consumption will be higher.

The average monthly energy consumption for washing and drying is 3.5-4 kWh. 

Tips to reduce energy consumption

  • Start a cycle only when you have enough clothes for a full load.
  • Use the cold water setting.
  • Don’t overcrowd the machine.
  • Hang out the clothes to dry in a clothing line if possible.
  • Clear the collected lint after each cycle.
  • Run the “tub clean” cycle as suggested.
  • Maintain the machine in good condition.

Electric oven & stove

An electric oven consumes 2500 watts per hour and a stove uses 1500 watts per hour on average. An hour-a-day usage for each will result in 75 kWh and 45 kWh in a month. Both these appliances can increase the load on the air-conditioner as they end up heating the interiors. Making them energy-efficient can also help in saving energy on your cooling needs.

Tips to reduce energy consumption

  • Opt for more energy-efficient appliances like a microwave, slow cooker, or toaster oven.
  • Avoid preheating unless required for a dish.
  • Turn off the stove a couple of minutes early. The food will continue to cook in the residual heat.
  • Use both appliances during the cooler parts of the day.


This is a very useful addition to the kitchen, saving time and effort. However, it does come at a cost. The average wattage of a dishwasher is 1800-2000 watts. This means they consume 1.8-2 kWh in an hour. A typical cycle lasts for two hours. And, if you use it once a day, the monthly energy consumption would be 108-120 kWh.

Another downside to using a dishwasher is the extra heat it brings into the room. This will add an extra burden on the AC. it will have to work more to maintain the temperature inside.

Tips to reduce energy consumption

  • Start the cycle only with a full load.
  • Rinse dirty dishes to avoid one cycle
  • Avoid using the heater for drying.
  • Use the dishwasher during the cooler parts of the day.

Television & electronic entertainment

Wattage-wise, televisions may seem too insignificant. But the hours of usage add up to a substantial figure. The average wattage of a TV is 60 watts and the average running time is 5 hours. This will come to 300 watt-hours per day and 9 kWh for the month. 

And this is for television alone. You can calculate the energy consumption for any other electronic entertainment devices used like gaming consoles, streaming devices, and soundbars. Together, they can notch up 50-60 kWh of electricity per month. 

Another aspect of these devices is that they are often kept on standby when they are not in active use. Though less, this also contributes to the overall energy consumption.

Tips to reduce energy consumption

  • Turn off electronic devices when they are not in use.
  • Avoid placing them on standby mode and deactivate quick start settings.
  • Reduce the brightness of the screens.
  • Choose devices with ENERGY STAR certification.
  • Look for other avenues for entertainment.

Computer, laptops, mobile phones

A regular 14-inch laptop comes with 60 watts. An hour of charging the laptop will consume 60 watt-hours of energy. At the rate of 6 hours of charging per day means 360 watt-hour per day and 10.8 kWh per month. 

The wattage of a desktop computer varies vastly depending on the size of the screen and other features. It will be in the range of 60-300 watts. The mobile phones come with a wattage of 2-6 watts. Depending on how long they are used or plugged in for charging, the energy usage varies.

Tips to reduce energy consumption

  • Unplug the charger when the device has finished charging.
  • Reduce the brightness of the screen.
  • Avoid standby mode for laptops and computers.
  • Choose energy saver mode.
  • Turn off BlueTooth and wifi.
  • Close all unwanted programs.


Last, but not least is lighting. The wattage of each individual bulb may be negligible, but because of the number of bulbs used and the duration of usage, the energy consumption on this account is significant.

A 100-watt incandescent bulb switched on for 5 hours a day will use 500 watt-hours of electricity. This will be 15 kWh energy in a month. If you have 20 or 30 bulbs in the house, the monthly energy consumption for lighting needs will become too hard to ignore. 

Tips to reduce energy consumption

  • Turn the lights off when not in use.
  • Switch to energy-efficient CFL or LED bulbs.
  • Allow natural light into rooms whenever possible.
  • Use timers to switch on and off outdoor lighting.
  • Use motion sensors to manage lighting in places less frequented.

Bottom line

It is often said that a unit of energy saved is worth two generated. As the unit is saved, it doesn’t need to be generated as well as it will help avoid the need for the fuel for one unit of power generation. 

What uses a lot of electricity? Identifying the devices that use the most electricity can help you rein in your energy consumption at home.

Understanding the energy consumption of devices can help you manage your energy bills better and avoid unnecessary surprises. At the same time, you can do your bit for the environment by avoiding wastage of energy and bringing down your energy consumption as much as possible. 

Even as we look for ways to shift to a clean energy source, we must rein in our energy consumption.

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