We as consumers don’t typically consider how much energy we use when we turn our connected devices on and off. Numerous studies have shown electricity use is often overestimated for low-energy consuming appliances and underestimated for high-energy consuming appliances and that consumers in general lack information about how much electricity can be saved through specific strategies. Let’s change this.
Today I want to debunk many myths around energy consumption in the home, in an effort to help everyone better understand how much we consume—so we can then use that knowledge to bring down our footprint. First, it might be helpful to look at a few of the big-ticket areas of energy consumption in our homes.
Our Energy Consumption by the Numbers
More than half of energy use in our homes is for heating and air conditioning, according to the U.S. EIA (Energy Information Admin.). Water heating, lighting, and refrigeration are near-universal and year-round home energy uses. In 2015, these three combined accounted for 27% of total annual home energy use. The remaining share—21%—of home energy use was for devices such as televisions, cooking appliances, clothes washers, and clothes dryers, as well as a growing list of consumer electronics including computers, tablets, smartphones, video game consoles, and internet streaming devices.
Here’s a fun fact: A heater actually uses more wattage per hour than an AC unit—18,000 vs. 3,500 wattage per hour. Yep, those are the numbers. Keeping a home thermostat set to a lower setting in the winter will help to avoid high bills. Automated smart-home thermostats can also help curb costs with heating and cooling.
Another option is to lower water heater temperatures, according to Alliance to Save Energy Alliance. Even though many water heaters are set at 140 degrees by default, the Dept. of Energy recommends 120 degrees for energy efficiency. Here’s a tip: This will cut your energy bill by 3–5% for every 10 degrees you lower the thermostat.
A Closer Look at Appliances
Next, let’s compare a few common appliances in a home to see what consumes more energy. First up, a toaster or a refrigerator? The truth is a toaster uses more wattage than your refrigerator—1,100 wattage per hour vs. 225. Naturally in a day the refrigerator ultimately uses more because it runs all day, whereas a toaster does not.
Here’s another one to consider: A dishwasher uses significantly more electricity than a desktop computer—roughly 330 wattage per hour vs. 75. Alliance to Save Energy Alliance says running a dishwasher daily would cost roughly $66 per year. You can cut down on energy use by running the dishwasher only when full. Now I going to bet most of you reading this have know this fact. However, did you know, you can also save around 15% of the dishwasher’s total energy use by switching its setting from heat dry to air dry? The heated dryer does not kill bacteria or clean your dishes; it simply stops the dripping.
Another option to reduce appliance energy consumption is to consider more ecofriendly appliances. Earlier this year, for example, Samsung Electronics announced many initiatives to make home appliances more eco-conscious. The company is using technology to reduce pollution, ramping up use of recycled plastic, and establishing a new Zero Energy Home Integration feature for SmartThings Energy, which provides production and storage data from solar panels and energy storage systems to help users establish energy self-sufficiency. SmartThings Energy monitors power usage of consumers’ connected devices and recommends energy saving methods based on their usage patterns.
Perhaps with more data in hand, we will soon have a better idea of what is consuming the most energy in our homes—and what is not. More is yet to come, and I can’t wait.
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