Lowering your household’s electricity consumption has a positive impact on the environment as well as your monthly energy bill. The tricky part is figuring out what uses the most electricity in your home and controlling it. In years past, that was easier said than done. Keeping usage down meant constant vigilance, which can be hard on anyone, especially with work and family duties competing for your attention.
Today, technology can automate appliances that use the most energy. There are even devices that can help you determine what uses the most electricity in your home, in real time. By taking advantage of these technological advances, you and your family can much more easily lower your energy usage.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the average energy consumption per household in 2015 in the United States was 77.1 million Btu, or 22,595.78 kWh. Using the EIA’s numbers, the following “end uses” consume the most electricity in the average home over a year’s time:
Pool and hot tub owners: Enjoying your pool or hot tub comes at a price. Hot tubs (including pumps and heaters) consume 1,538 kWh annually, and pool pumps eat up just less, at 1,527 kWh per year. That’s 6.81% and 6.76%, respectively, of the average American home’s energy consumption, putting pools and hot tubs just after water heaters on the list of energy-hungry end uses.
Now that you know what uses the most electricity in your home, you can take steps to curb usage. Below, we provide tips for how to automate the appliances that use the most energy in your household. A few technology upgrades could really pay off over time in electricity savings.
According to the EIA, in 2015 space heating used the most energy in the average American household. The average cost per household that year was $411. Lowering the temperature at key times, especially if your house is empty, can save a lot of energy. Automating your thermostat can help, and you have a few options to choose from.
Programmable thermostats have been on the market for many years now. You program daily or weekly temperature settings, which means you don’t have to remember to manually adjust the thermostat. You could also get a smart or Wi-Fi-enabled thermostat. These devices allow you to program, monitor and control the temperature of your home from your mobile phone. Some compatible smart thermostats can even be connected to home hubs or smart plugs like the PowerPlug that have a built-in hub, allowing you even greater control, like voice command through your Amazon Echo or Google Home.
Americans use nearly as much energy cooling their homes as they do heating them. And on average, they actually spend more than on heating, at $442 annually, if you include evaporative coolers. As with space heating, automating your thermostat can go a long way toward lowering energy usage. If you use window units, you can buy a smart air conditioner that can be controlled and programmed from your mobile device. And it goes without saying that you’ll want to choose an energy-efficient air conditioner that comes with an ENERGY STAR® certification.
When you need hot water to take a shower, wash dishes or run a load of laundry, you engage the hot water heater. Among the most electricity-consuming appliances in your home, water heaters account for almost 14% of the average household’s energy use. That’s an average cost of $381 annually.
Limiting hot water usage, such as taking shorter showers, is the simplest way to lower energy consumption. But technology also plays a role. Upgrading to a more energy-efficient water heater will go a long way toward saving energy. And depending on what kind of unit and energy source you have now, automation may also be possible. Smart water heaters are coming on the market, as are devices you can connect to your existing unit to make it smart. You can monitor your hot water usage and come up with energy-saving schedules.
EIA data shows that Americans, on average, use 1,277 kWh of electricity every year to control the humidity of their homes, although they spend far more on dehumidifiers than on humidifiers. That works out to $128 and $44 annually on dehumidifying and humidifying, respectively.
Because humidifiers and dehumidifiers are among the household appliances that use the most energy, automation makes sense as a solution. Energy-efficient smart dehumidifiers and smart humidifiers can be monitored from your mobile device and programmed with electricity-saving routines.
And if your current unit isn’t smart now, you can plug it into a smart plug and control it as you would any other smart device. For instance, the remote control and automation capabilities of Constellation’s PowerPlug make controlling dehumidifiers much easier and give increased visibility into less-trafficked areas like unfinished basements or crawl spaces. The PowerPlug not only gives you real-time information about how much energy your dehumidifier is using but also can be connected to a humidity sensor that will automatically turn the dehumidifier on right when it’s needed.
If you’ve ever taken the time to consider what uses the most electricity in your home, lighting probably came up near the top of the list. It just makes sense if you think about how many lamps and light fixtures you need to properly light a home. Indeed, in 2015 the average American spent $147 on electricity for lighting alone. The high energy cost of traditional incandescent bulbs has pushed many Americans to replace them with much more energy-efficient LED and CFL bulbs.
But did you know that you could also opt for smart light bulbs? They combine the energy efficiency of an LED bulb and the programmable remote control of smart devices. Automating routines can save electricity, and you can even connect them to a home hub if you have one. One drawback of smart bulbs is that you may not find one that fits your current fixture. In those cases, you may want to install smart switches.
If you’re trying to automate a lamp with its own plug, you could simply use a smart plug to turn the lamp into smart lighting. And if you use a smart plug with a built-in hub, like Constellation’s PowerPlug, you can connect it to multiple smart bulbs and other smart lighting, including them in your home network that can be controlled on your mobile device or even by voice assistant.
Washers and dryers are also appliances that use a lot of electricity, though dryers (776 kWh per year) use far more energy than washers (59 kWh per year). That works out to a yearly average of $98 and $8, respectively, per household. A way to bring that electricity use down is to upgrade to ENERGY STAR® washers and dryers, which are more energy-efficient. But you now also have the option of choosing smart washers and dryers, too, which can monitor energy use, connect to an extended home network and be programmed to run during off-peak hours. You have the potential to save a lot of energy on laundry day.
Entertainment may not come to mind right away when considering how to automate appliances that use the most energy. But once you think about how much you use your television(s), cable or satellite boxes, DVRs, video game consoles, VCR/DVD/Blu-ray players and internet streaming devices, it becomes pretty clear how the average American household used 760 kWh of electricity in 2015 on just those gadgets. That works out to just over $100 to power that entertainment. And those numbers could be on the rise.
Luckily, there are several smart solutions to help you automate and save. Smart TVs, for example, can be controlled from another device, paired with a home hub and scheduled to power down at certain times to save energy. You can also plug your entertainment devices into a smart plug to turn them into smart devices, especially if that smart plug has a built-in hub, which can connect your devices into a home network. Plus, smart plugs like the PowerPlug can also let you know how much energy your entertainment devices use — whether actively during heavy use (say, streaming) or passively in the form of phantom load, defined as the energy a device consumes even when not in use. Knowing just how much power your devices use can help you eliminate energy waste and make better energy decisions.
Refrigerators are the appliances that use the most energy in your kitchen — all the fridges in an average home use 756 kWh of electricity per year. That’s another 100-plus dollars on just refrigeration.
If you have an old fridge that you know is an energy hog, the best way to lower energy consumption is to upgrade to an energy-efficient refrigerator. Some energy-efficient models are even smart refrigerators. They have many energy-saving features, like see-through doors so you can pick what you want without opening it, or remote control of the temperature. Some even have cameras that manage food waste and alert you when you’re running low on an item. You can even save trips to the supermarket by using apps to order groceries online.
When used properly, ceiling fans can be used as a less-expensive option for regulating the temperature in your home than using your HVAC system alone. But they still use 285 kWh per year in the average household, costing $36 yearly. That may not seem like a lot, but by using smart fans in combination with your HVAC, you may be able to reduce your electricity costs by up to 11%. Smart fans can be programmed for optimal energy efficiency, can sense temperature changes and adjust, and may even have motion detectors that can tell when someone’s in the room and turn on or off accordingly.
If you have an older range, you may want to upgrade to an energy-efficient oven with smart features to save electricity. You can control the cooking temperature remotely and with greater accuracy, which can improve efficiency. Some models can sense the food you’ve inserted and adjust the settings for better cooking. And some smart ovens even come with cameras that allow you to better see your food as it cooks, so you don’t have to open the door to check and lose heat in the process.
When researching how to automate the most electricity-consuming appliances in your kitchen, don’t overlook the dishwasher. Although these appliances don’t use as much energy as refrigerators or ovens, at 113 kWh per year ($15), they still rank among the most power-hungry devices in your home.
When it comes time to get a new unit, you’ll definitely want to upgrade to a more energy-efficient dishwasher, and maybe one that sports some smart features. You can lower electricity cost any number of ways, from soil sensors that adjust cycles for more efficient washing to programmable capabilities that allow you to adjust drying times or run loads during off-peak hours. And smart dishwashers can be controlled remotely on an app or as part of your home network. You can even connect them to voice assistants.
Finding out what uses the most electricity in your home is the first step toward lowering your energy bill. You’ll use that information when deciding when and how to automate appliances that use the most energy.
Of course, government figures show averages — a snapshot — of energy usage in the American home. How you use electricity in your house may be much different. But even so, you can still use technology like smart plugs to learn in real time how much electricity almost any device in your home is actually using. And with that knowledge, you can take control of your energy consumption and make a real impact on your electricity bill every month.
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