Home Energy Savings | July 29, 2016

What Does it Cost to Binge Watch Your Favorite TV Show? Take Our Quiz!

Most of us just flip a switch and that’s that. We don’t give much thought to the energy use of appliances. We’re too busy planning our romantic evening with that special person to care about the cost of running the gas fireplace that figures large in our evening’s plans. But the reality is that when it comes to lowering energy costs, it is true that every little bit helps. Yes, we all need to clean our clothes or vacuum the rug. But knowing the energy use of appliances — the cost of a load of laundry or the cost of running a dishwasher — can help us better understand how to run them more efficiently or help us purchase the most energy-efficient appliances in the first place.

Do you think you know how much energy it takes to fulfill your coffee addiction or run that vacuum cleaner? Take our quiz and see how well you know the energy use of appliances. We think you’ll be surprised.

How much does it cost to binge watch 10 hours of your favorite TV show?

Don’t beat yourself up if you got this wrong. Who would think that binge watching could be such an inexpensive escape?! That said, you can still take steps to ensure you’re getting the most bang for your TV energy use. Remember: Winter is coming. You’ll want to save all your extra energy for staying warm.

  • Make sure your TV is an ENERGY STAR-certified, which means that it meets certain federal energy guidelines that indicate that it’s one of the most energy efficient appliances.
  • TV energy use depends to some extent on the size of the TV. Michael Bluejay, aka Mr. Electricity, says that LCD TVs are the most energy-efficient appliances for models under 50 inches. If you want a TV greater than 50 inches, look for a DLP TV, specifically one that has an LED light source. LCD TVs have screens like those used for computer monitors while DLP TVs are rear-projection.

What’s the cost of running a dishwasher (average run time is 2 hours, 4x a week or 208x) for a year?

While the cost of running a dishwasher is less than a washing machine, dishwashers are not the most energy-efficient appliances in the house. Here are some steps you can take to help lower the cost of running a dishwasher.

  • If possible, use an ENERGY STAR-certified dishwasher. (Do you see a theme emerging, here?)
  • Run your hot water for a minute before starting your load. That way, the water entering your dishwasher is already hot, something that can be important for the newer energy-efficient models that use less water generally.
  • Don’t bother rinsing. Scrape off excess food but rinsing is just a waste of water. If you can’t stop yourself, at least use cold water.

How much does it cost to play 15 hours of your favorite video game on your game system?

Gamers are likely thrilled at this news — that playing a video game for 15 hours actually doesn’t use that much energy. Bye-bye “you’re wasting electricity” as one of the reasons a gamer should get up and do something else. But while game console energy use isn’t among the largest drains on the total energy use of appliances in your house, you should also be aware that how you’re using the system and which system you use can change its game console energy use costs. A PS4, for instance, uses more energy if you’re playing Kill Zone (144-151 watts) than if you’re watching Deadpool on Netflix (93 watts). Even on standby mode, a PS4 uses 10 watts. Indeed, of the many game consoles on the market, PS4 consumes the most energy. Nintendo Wii and Wii U are the most energy-efficient appliances among gaming consoles, while PS4 and XBox top the most energy-demanding appliances for gaming.

How much does it cost to be a fulltime freelancer (8 hours a day, 5 days a week, 50 weeks a year — everyone deserves two weeks off!) using a laptop computer?

Freelancers were probably hoping the higher amount was the answer here. The self-employed are always looking for expenses to deduct at tax time, and what better deduction than the energy use of appliances like laptops? Still, you can reduce your laptop energy use easily. Be sure your laptop is set to go to sleep/standby automatically when you’re not using it. ENERGY STAR notes that using sleep and hibernate features reduce laptop energy use from 20-30 watts of power to 1-2 watts. Every little bit helps. It can also extend the life of your computer.

How much does it cost to run my ornamental gas fireplace for a romantic evening?

Of course, the real answer to the question about the cost of running an ornamental gas fireplace for a romantic evening is “priceless”. The pragmatic among us, however, know that nothing comes free, even love. The good news is that even ornamental gas fireplaces are not energy hogs. To determine the actual cost of running a gas fireplace in your house, you’ll need the model’s exact energy output. (Most gas hearths use between 20,000 and 60,000 BTUs per hour, according to the American Gas Association.) Divide the number of BTUs by 1,000 to get the number of cubic feet burned per hour. Then, multiply that by the price of natural gas to get the final hourly cost.

How much does it cost to run my vacuum cleaner for an hour once a week for a year?

Lots of people taking this quiz were secretly hoping that vacuum cleaner energy use would make this appliance one of the most energy-demanding appliances on this quiz. Sadly, this is not the case. You now can run your vacuum three hours a week and still have a fairly low annual energy cost. Still, there’s always a way to reduce the energy use of appliances. To that end, following these vacuum cleaner maintenance tips can help make it a more energy-efficient appliance: replace the bag regularly; make sure the bag is properly attached; empty bagless models often; clean the brush roll; check the belt; check filters and hoses; and take it to the repair shop sooner rather than later when you notice it’s not picking items up the way it once did.

How much does my coffee addiction cost? (running your coffee maker one hour a day, 365 days a year)

People know that stopping by their local Starbucks or coffee shop for a daily cup of joe doesn’t come cheap. What they likely didn’t realize until this quiz, though, is that making coffee at home isn’t inexpensive either. Coffee maker energy use is pricey, period. Now no one is suggesting you give up coffee. But Jamie Oliver has one potential solution for lowering your coffee maker energy use costs: Cold brew it. That’s right. Place the grinds in a French Press coffee maker filled with water the night before. Let it sit overnight. Strain and serve over ice. Perfect for the hot weather.

How much does it cost to wash and dry two loads of laundry a week for a year?

Want to save money on your laundry load(s) each week? Dry them someplace other than in a dryer. Yup, the clothes dryer wins most energy demanding appliance in the duel between washer and dryer. Green Building Advisor writer Martin Holladay breaks down the cost of a load of laundry this way: 81% of the energy used goes to operate the clothes dryer; 13% of the energy goes to heat water used for laundry, and only 6% of the energy goes to operating the clothes washer.

If you can’t find a way to air dry your laundry, you can lower the cost of a load of laundry by following a few of these tips:

  • Wash in cold water. Ninety percent of the energy used for washing clothes, Bluejay says, comes from heating the water. He gives this example to make his point: Washing your clothes in hot instead of cold for a year, wastes more electricity than leaving the refrigerator door open 24 hours a day for a year. Today’s washing machines and detergents are built to ensure clean clothes with cold-water cleaning. At the very least use cold water for the rinse cycle.
  • Use a front-loading washing machine. They use 40-75% less water and 30-85% less energy than typical top-loaders, Bluejay says. They also squeeze more water out of your clothes, making them easier to dry.

How much does it cost to fill a bathtub for my relaxing evening bath?

Let’s face it. Sometimes you just need to get away from it all. And what better way than a steaming hot bath, maybe with a little music, some candlelight, and the door locked against any two- or four-legged creatures. Happily, the energy use relating to this therapy is practically zero, making a bath one of life’s few virtually guilt-free moments. It’s 20 gallons of escape. Enjoy— you’re worth it.

Want to calculate the energy use of appliances yourself?

Use the Energy.gov calculator to check out other appliances. Or, you can use this handy formula, also from Energy.gov:

  1. Estimate the number of hours per day an appliance runs. You can do this by either a rough estimate of how many hours you use the appliance each day or by keeping a log of each time you use the appliance and for how long.
  2. Find the wattage of the product. An appliance’s wattage can be found in three places: stamped on the bottom or back or the appliance or on its nameplate.
  3. Multiply the appliance ampere usage by the appliance voltage usage. Energy.gov says that if you can’t find the wattage on the appliance, estimate it by finding the electrical current draw (in amperes) and then multiplying it by the appliance’s voltage. Sometimes you can also find typical wattages of products online too.
  4. Daily energy consumption formula: Wattage X Hours Used Per Day/1000 = Daily kWH consumption.
  5. Annual energy consumption formula: Multiply the daily kWH use by number of days used per year.
  6. Annual cost to run the appliance: Annual energy consumption X utility rate per kWH = annual cost to run the appliance.
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