## Appliances and Use of Electricity

Appliances are an important part of any household. However, these appliances account for about one-fifth of your household’s energy consumption. Among all the household electrical appliances, refrigerators, clothes washers, and dryers use the most energy. Different household appliances use different amounts of energy depending upon their efficiency.

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## Factors Affecting Energy Consumption by Appliances

There are several factors that affect the energy consumption of different appliances. For example, a water heater having improper insulation is less efficient and will use more energy than one with proper insulation. In the same way, a clothes washer in an open location is likely to use more electricity than one located inside the home.

The age of the appliance is an important factor that affects the amount of energy consumption. If you are using a 12-year-old refrigerator, chances are that you are paying more for electricity consumption. If you have purchased a refrigerator within last five years, it is likely to be more energy efficient as most of the newer appliances are becoming more energy efficient in general. In addition, the model and brand of the appliance also decides the energy usage. (See the Bright Hub article "Calculate Savings with Energy Star Appliances" for more information about energy efficient appliances.)

## How much Electricity do Common Household Appliances Use?

When looking to answer this question, keep in mind that every appliance that is plugged in consumes energy. Several appliances consume energy even if they are not “turned on.” For example, TVs, computers, VCRs, and other electronic devices use energy when they are in standby mode, albeit a lower amount. Even your mobile charger for your phone or iPod consumes about 4 watts of electricity per hour.

Electricity is measured in kilowatts. One kilowatt means 1000 watts, and one thousand watt-hours mean one kilowatt-hour (1kwh) or one kilowatt used over one hour. Your utility bills show kilowatt-hour usage. Let us see how much electricity a typical appliance uses (in watts per hour):

- Electric clothes dryer: 6000 watts
- Cloth washer : 425 Watts
- Refrigerator : 188 watts
- Dishwasher: 200 watts
- Central AC: 6000 watts
- Window AC: 1300 watts
- Flat screen TV: 150 watts
- LCD TV: 213 watts
- Vacuum: 1100 watts
- Humidifier: 90 watts
- Freezer : 273 Watts
- Water heater: 473 Watts
- Toaster oven : 1200 watts
- Heat pump: 5000 watts
- Ceiling fan: 60 watts
- Coffeemaker: 1200 watts
- Blender: 300 watts
- Mixer: 200 watts
- Iron: 1000 watts
- Toaster: 1000 watts
- Computer:95 watts
- DVD player: 25 watts
- VCR: 11 Watts
- Electric blanket: 250 watts
- Cable Box: 20 watts
- PC monitor : 150 watts
- Laptop: 50 watts

## How to Calculate Power Consumption

You can easily calculate the power consumption. To find out the energy consumption by an appliance, you need two pieces of data; the duration of the use of the appliance and the watts consumed. Almost all appliances are labeled with their average rate of energy usage in some accessible place. Some appliances may show volts and amps. In that case, you can get watts by simply multiplying volts by amps (volts x amp). You can convert the watts into kilowatts by dividing watts by 1000.

Kilowatt = X Watt/1000

If a one 1KW appliance runs for one hour, it consumes 1 kWh of energy. If this appliance runs for an entire day, it consumes 24 kWh. You can calculate the cost of running appliances by simply multiplying power consumption with the rate of energy in your area.

Let us assume that energy cost per KWh is 10 cents.

There are several appliances in your home that draw a larger amount of power, but these appliances are used for short duration, for example, your microwave oven. It might consume 1000 watts, but it runs only for a few minutes. If you microwave a dish in 3 minutes, the microwave runs for only 1/20 of an hour. Let us see how much electricity it consumes:

1 kW x 3 Minutes x 1 hour/60 = 0.05kwh

Cost of running the appliance = 0.05kWh x $.10/kWh = $0.005

## Monitor the Energy Usage in your House with a Kill-A-Watt

If you want to keep an eye on the energy usage in your house, one useful tool you can get is the Kill-A-Watt device. It is very simple to use device and it counts volts, amps, and watts. You simply need to plug it in and it starts counting kWh, the same units used on your electrical bill. You can monitor the usage by watching the LCD screen. It is a one of those inexpensive, but useful devices that helps you have peace of mind. For instance, you can use a Kill-A-Watt with your refrigerator to check how much it is costing to drink cold beer and soda. Actually, the labels given on appliances are always overstated. When you monitor them with a Kill-A-Watt, you will see that their energy consumption never reaches the amount stated on the labels.

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## Resources

Website: US Department of Energy – Energy Savings Tips: Appliances

Website: GE – Home Appliance Energy Use (Clickable matrix)