The Five Appliances That Devour the Most Energy


The Five Appliances That Devour The Most Energy

Ways To Save Electricity

We use energy every day and pay handsomely for it. While we may not be able to control its price, we can control our usage of energy, which is measured in kilowatt-hours, or kWh; 1 kWh being the equivalent of using 1,000 watts for one hour.

In 2001, the U.S. was responsible for 25 percent of the world’s kWh consumption, which amounts to 3.5 trillion kWh. Of that, households used 1.1 trillion kWh, with business and industry using the rest.

In general, any appliance that generates heat will use a lot of kWh. The main culprits are hair dryers, dishwashers and ranges. While they do consume a lot of kWh, they’re generally only in use for a short period of time.

Unfortunately, some of the other larger users are those we keep running for hours, or days — sometimes never really shutting them down. Here are the top five users, along with some suggestions on how to curtail their energy consumption:

Refrigerators and Freezers

If you have an old refrigerator, you might want to consider trading it in; the older your refrigerator is, the less efficient it’s likely to be. Newer models can use 50 percent to 70 percent less energy than models 20 to 30 years old. If your fridge is more than 15 years old and you can’t afford a new one, you might want to consider:

  • Lowering its thermostat; 36 to 38 degrees Fahrenheit is optimal
  • The seal should be able to hold a piece of paper; if it doesn’t, you need to replace it
  • Know what you want to remove from the refrigerator before you open the door, so that you don’t have to keep the door open too long


If you live in south Florida, or in the U.S. Northwest, dehumidifiers are sometimes crucial for good health. Here are some ways to reduce the energy they use:

  • Close off the room where the dehumidifier is working — that way it’s only working in one room
  • The humidity setting shouldn’t be so low that it makes the air very dry; 50 percent humidity is just fine for basements

Water Heater

A water heater actually accounts for about 12 percent of the total energy used in a home. It runs all day long, so that when you turn on the shower you immediately get hot water. Here are some things to try:

  • Take shorter showers
  • Wash your clothes in cold water
  • Turn the temperature setting down to no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Insulate the storage tank and at least the first 6 feet of pipe connected to the tank

Air Conditioner

OK — some folks can’t live without a water heater or a dehumidifier, but we in Texas cannot exist without air conditioning, at least for eight months out of the year. To get the most efficient use out of your air conditioner:

  • Have a professional air conditioning service check your unit at least once a year, preferably at the beginning of the season in May. They will check the coolant charge, make sure all fluids are at proper levels, and make sure it’s properly insulated
  • You need at least 16 inches of insulation in the attic; the sun can really heat up your home
  • Close the air conditioning vents to the rooms you don’t use; there’s really no point in cooling a room you don’t go in


If we blame the air conditioner for being a hog, we need to give equal billing to the heater. If your heater runs on gas, it will be less expensive to run, as electric heat is very expensive. With electric heat, you’re actually using electricity to generate the heat. Consider the following:

  • Upgrade to a more efficient unit
  • Use a programmable thermostat
  • Don’t place the thermostat in a room that is cool; it’ll make the other rooms stifling hot and require more electricity
  • Dress warmly

The less kWh we use, the lower our electricity bill. Usage is the one variable we can control!