Appliances account for about 20% of the energy consumption in average US households, with refrigerators, clothes washers, and clothes dryers at the top of the consumption list.
When you’re shopping for appliances, think of two price tags.
- The first tag covers the purchase price—think of it as a down payment.
- The second price tag is the cost of operating the appliance during its lifetime. You’ll be paying on that second price tag every month with your utility bill for the next 10 to 20 years, depending on the appliance. Refrigerators last an average of 20 years; room air conditioners and dishwashers, about 10 years each; clothes washers, about 14 years.
What's a kilowatt?
When you cook a pot of rice for 1 hour, you use 1000 watt-hours of electricity! One thousand watt-hours equals 1 kilowatt-hour, or 1 kWh. Your utility bill usually shows what you are charged for the kilowatt-hours you use. The average residential rate is 8.3 cents per kWh. A typical U.S. household consumes about 10,000 kWh per year, costing an average of $830 annually.
How Much Electricity Do Appliances Use?
This chart shows how much energy a typical appliance uses per year and its corresponding cost based on national averages. For example, a refrigerator uses almost five times the electricity the average television uses.
When you do have to shop for a new appliance, look for the ENERGY STAR label. ENERGY STAR is a label that has been created by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy to help consumers identify products that are energy efficent. An appliance receives an ENERGY STAR rating if it exceeds minimum government standards, as determined by standardized testing.
To help you figure out whether an appliance is energy efficient, the federal government requires most appliances to display the bright yellow and black EnergyGuide label. Click here to learn how to read a sample label. Although these labels will not tell you which appliance is the most efficient, they will tell you the annual energy consumption and operating cost for each appliance so you can compare them yourself.