23 Energy-Guzzling Household Devices Spiking Your Electricity Bill

As we continue to embrace technology in every corner of our homes, our electricity bills seem to climb ever higher. Certain appliances and gadgets, notorious for their energy consumption, can drive up your monthly expenses if not monitored carefully.

Understanding which devices are the most power-hungry is the first step in curbing unnecessary expenditure and fostering a more energy-efficient home.

Here’s a quick rundown of the top 23 energy-guzzling household devices.

1. Air Conditioners

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Air conditioning units are notorious for their high energy consumption, especially during hot summer months.

Depending on the size of the unit, its efficiency rating (SEER) ¹, and how often it’s used, they can account for a significant portion of your electricity bill.

Consider upgrading to a more energy-efficient model or using fans to reduce reliance on air conditioning.

Opinion: Being a home energy nerd, I think we will see a future trend of high-performance homes that are air-sealed very tightly along with thick insulation (newer building codes being adopted reflect this). This means homes can be heated and cooled with a small electric mini-split units. Saving a massive amount of money on monthly energy costs.

2. Water Heaters

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Water heaters, whether tankless or with a storage tank, are among the top energy consumers in many households. They are essential for providing hot water but can be expensive, particularly if they are not energy-efficient.

Lowering the thermostat setting and insulating your tank water heater can help reduce energy use. But, make sure if you have a tank water heater you don’t lower the temperature too much as it leads to the risk of Legionnaires ². I keep mine at 140 degrees.

Opinion: In my personal home, we switched from an old natural gas water heater to a electric heat pump unit with a tank and couldn’t be happier (although I did have to switch anode rods as it smelled like rotten eggs). I would caveat this with heat pump water heaters are newer technology. And like any new tech, there will be some models that perform poorly. Make sure to due some research before purchasing.

3. Space Heaters

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Space heaters provide additional heating to specific areas but can be very energy-intensive. Using them as a supplemental heat source can significantly increase your electricity bill.

Using them sparingly is advisable, and models with automatic shut-off features and energy-saving modes should be opted for.

4. Dehumidifiers

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Dehumidifiers reduce moisture levels in the air, which is particularly helpful in damp areas. However, they can consume a lot of electricity, especially if they run continuously.

Consider using a dehumidifier only when necessary and choose an energy-efficient model.

5. Clothes Dryers

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Clothes dryers are another major contributor to high household electricity usage. Their efficiency varies widely, with older models being particularly energy-hungry.

To save energy, dry loads back-to-back to utilize residual heat and clean the lint filter after every cycle to maintain efficiency.

Opinion: At the time of writing, there are some new heat pump washer/dryers coming out that I’m excited about. They don’t require venting to the outside of the home, and you don’t need to switch over the laundry (I always seem to forget that step). The one thing to watch for is how difficult it is to clean out the lint filter.

6. Refrigerators & Freezers

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Refrigerators and freezers run continuously, making them significant energy users. Energy consumption depends on size, age, and efficiency rating.

To reduce energy use, avoid opening the doors frequently, keep them full to maintain cold air, and ensure they are properly sealed.

Pro Tip: If you want your refrigerator to last and run efficiently, make sure to remove the rear cover and use a vacuum to clean the dust off. Check user manual from proper procedure for your unit.

7. Electric Ovens & Stovetops

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Electric ovens and stovetops consume a lot of power, especially when used frequently or for long cooking sessions.

To save energy, consider using a microwave or toaster oven for smaller meals and keeping the oven door closed while cooking to prevent heat loss.

Opinion: At my home we are on our third convection toaster oven (they don’t seem to last more than 2-3 years when used multiple times daily). It is perfect for 90% of the meals we cook. But, if you have a large family, it might not be feasible.

8. Dishwashers

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Dishwashers can use a considerable amount of electricity and water, especially if not run on eco-mode or when used half-full.

Run full loads and choose the energy-saving cycle whenever possible to maximize efficiency.

9. Washing Machines

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Washing machines, particularly older models, can be heavy on electricity, especially when used with hot water.

Opting for cold water cycles and full loads can significantly reduce energy consumption. And as mentioned earlier, check out the new heat pump combo units.

10. Pool Pumps

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If you have a swimming pool, the pump can be a substantial electricity user, circulating water through the filtration system.

Using a variable speed pump and reducing running time can help save energy. It is estimated to save 50-90% ³.

11. Lighting

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The transition from traditional incandescent bulbs to LED (Light Emitting Diode) or CFL (Compact Fluorescent Lamp) bulbs is more than just a trend; it’s a significant energy-saving move.

Incandescent bulbs release 90% of their energy as heat, making them highly inefficient compared to LEDs and CFLs, which use at least 75% less energy and last 25 times longer ⁴.

Upgrading your home lighting to LED or CFL can reduce the portion of your energy bill attributed to lighting by a substantial margin. Additionally, consider maximizing natural light during the day to decrease dependency on artificial lighting.

Opinion: Being an electrician for many years, I would say upgrading to LED lighting makes a ton of sense. The only thing to watch out for is when you use dimmers. You often need to run a neutral wire instead of just a hot to the dimmer. Otherwise the light will flicker when dimmed.

12. Plasma TVs

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While plasma TVs offer vibrant picture quality, their energy consumption is considerably higher than their LCD and LED counterparts. This is due to the technology behind plasma screens, which requires more power to light the tiny cells that create images.

If you’re purchasing a new TV, look for one with an Energy Star rating, which indicates higher efficiency. Also, adjusting the brightness to a lower setting and turning the TV off when not in use can further reduce its energy impact.

13. Computers & Peripheral Devices

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Desktop computers consume more power than laptops, and when you add peripheral devices like printers, scanners, and external drives, the total energy usage can be significant.

Employing energy-saving settings such as sleep mode for short breaks and completely shutting down the system when not in use can drastically reduce energy consumption.

Additionally, unplugging peripherals when not in active use prevents them from drawing “phantom power,” a sneaky source of energy waste ⁵.

14. Gaming Consoles

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Modern gaming consoles, while offering impressive graphics and gameplay, can consume as much electricity as a refrigerator when used extensively.

To mitigate this, use the console’s energy-saving features, which can significantly reduce power consumption when the device is not actively used. Additionally, consider limiting gaming sessions to conserve energy.

15. Electric Kettles

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Electric kettles boil water more efficiently than stovetop kettles, but their convenience comes with a high energy cost per use. To minimize this, only boil as much water as you need at a time.

This simple adjustment can lead to significant energy savings over time, especially for frequent users.

16. Hair Dryers

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The high wattage of hair dryers makes them one of the most energy-intensive small appliances in many households.

To reduce their impact, consider air drying your hair when possible or using the dryer on a lower heat setting. Not only does this save energy, but it’s also gentler on your hair.

17. Microwaves

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Microwaves use less energy than conventional ovens, making them efficient for reheating food or cooking small meals. However, their ease of use can lead to frequent, sometimes unnecessary, use.

To maximize their efficiency, cover food while cooking to reduce cooking time, and turn off the microwave at the wall when not in use to avoid standby energy consumption.

18. Coffee Makers

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Many coffee makers keep water hot in a reservoir for convenience, but this feature can use a significant amount of energy.

Switching to a manual method like a French press or using a model that brews directly into an insulated carafe can reduce energy use.

Also, consider turning off the coffee maker immediately after brewing.

19. Vacuum Cleaners

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While necessary for keeping your home clean, vacuum cleaners can be significant energy users, especially those with high power ratings.

To use them more efficiently, maintain your vacuum well, clean the filters regularly, and only use the highest settings for particularly tough jobs.

20. Home Entertainment Systems

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Entertainment systems, including TVs, sound bars, and streaming devices, can consume a lot of energy, especially if left on standby.

Plugging these devices into a smart power strip can help manage their energy use by turning them off completely when not in use.

21. Portable Electric Grills

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Portable electric grills offer a convenient cooking method but can use a lot of power. Opt for cooking methods that use less energy, like gas grills, or use the electric grill sparingly and for short periods.

22. Air Purifiers

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Air purifiers are becoming increasingly popular for improving indoor air quality but can be quite energy-intensive.

Look for models with a high CADR (Clean Air Delivery Rate) and an Energy Star rating to ensure efficiency ⁶. Running air purifiers only when necessary can also help save energy.

23. Electric Blankets

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Electric blankets provide warmth without needing to heat the entire house, but they can still contribute to higher electricity bills if used extensively.

Using them to preheat the bed and then turning them off, or opting for blankets with automatic shut-off or lower power settings, can help minimize their energy use.

Mindful Use & Rising Costs

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Being mindful of how and when you use these devices can significantly reduce your household’s energy consumption.

Investing in energy-efficient models when it’s time for replacements and adopting energy-saving habits can lead to substantial savings on your electricity bill, making your home more environmentally friendly and cost-effective.

This will become more important as energy costs are at 10 year highs and don’t seem to be coming down any time soon ⁷.

Sources

  1. https://www.americanstandardair.com/resources/blog/what-is-seer/
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/legionella/downloads/fs-legionnairesvacationrental-508.pdf
  3. https://www.hawkinsserviceco.com/blog/variable-speed-pump-lowers-energy-costs/
  4. https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/led-lighting
  5. https://saveonenergy.ca/For-Your-Home/Advice-and-Tips/Phantom-power
  6. https://www.energystar.gov/productfinder/product/certified-room-air-cleaners/results
  7. https://neada.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/Winter-2022-23-Heating-PR.pdf
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Davin is a jack-of-all-trades but has professional training and experience in various home and garden subjects. He leans on other experts when needed and edits and fact-checks all articles.