Introduction – Apartment Electricity Usage
Appliances use electricity in an apartment. At the point-of-use for a home appliance in, there are no carbon emissions from consuming electricity. However the generation of electricity at its source leads to carbon emissions whether its a coal plant or a solar power plant. For example, a coal plant burns fossil fuels which leads to carbon emissions. And solar panels, during their manufacturing and raw materials extraction phase, emit carbon as part of their manufacturing emissions. So basically, electricity used by an appliance will be responsible for carbon emissions during its life cycle.
When we account for electricity usage in an apartment, we’re also accounting for carbon emissions of the apartment. Using electricity efficiently will save money and cut down carbon emissions to get us closer to net zero. At present, there are choices for energy-saving appliances broadly, so the result of evaluating the electricity usage of each appliance in an apartment is actionable. You can choose to reduce your use of the appliance or replace it with a more energy efficient model at the end of its life cycle.
What Uses Most Electricity In Apartment?
To find out what uses the most electricity in an apartment, we analyzed data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), a branch of the Department of Energy. The EIA has a mission to deliver statistics concerning energy to citizens. They are non-partisan, so are responsible to collect, clean up, analyze, present and forecast using the data, to inform on good energy policy making. They also play an important role in private energy by supplying the data to increase efficiency of markets. Every year the EIA collects survey data on the use of electricity in homes.
Strictly speaking, the EIA doesn’t break out electricity usage by the type of home. The EIA aggregates the statistics for houses and apartments. However, we can consider one by one whether the numbers make sense for an apartment and whether it should be adjusted. We will see actually that the top uses of electricities are fairly generic and absolutely make sense for apartments. The only adjustments that make sense would be adjustment for size. Apartments tend to be smaller than houses by square footage so everything that depends on space, for example heating and cooling, will get scaled down. You’ll see that this is true for the top 5 uses of electricity.
Tips for Conserving Electricity
One way to conserve electricity is by setting your thermostat a few degrees lower in the winter and a few degrees higher in the summer. This will help reduce the electricity your apartment uses for heating and cooling. For those looking to conserve electricity, energy-efficient light bulbs are a great solution as they use less power than traditional incandescent bulbs and last much longer.
The washer and dryer are also big users of electricity in the home. You can save money on your laundry bill by line drying your clothes whenever possible. This is especially true in the summer when you can take advantage of the sun’s natural heat to dry your clothes. Lighting is another big electricity usage in the home. You can save money on your lighting bill by using energy-efficient light bulbs and turning off lights when you leave a room.
The 10 Things That Use Most Electricity In An Apartment
Here are the top 10 of the biggest electricity users in your home, and what you can do to minimize their impact on your bill:
- Air conditioner (716 kWh per person; 22.72% of all electricity use) – The top electricity using appliance is the air conditioner that cools down the apartment, consuming 716 kWh per person per year. Upgrading to a more energy-efficient model can help reduce your electricity usage.
- Electric heater (594 kWh per person; 18.85% of all electricity use) – If you have an electric heater, then using it to heat up your apartment eats up 594 kWh of electricity per person per year. There’s really no way to be very efficient in using electricity because its one of the most inefficient ways to heat up an apartment. The difficulty is that you will have trouble changing this out unless you own the building. Consider asking the apartment owner to switch to natural gas or even better, a heat pump. If you don’t have an electric heater, then ignore this one!
- Water heating (494 kWh per person; 15.69% of all electricity use) – The third item on the list is also contingent on you having an electrical water heating system. Heating water turns out to be pretty expensive. Your water heating might be tied to the central heating, or it could be separate. Either way, water heating is a very easy area to reduce electricity use. Take shorter showers. The Dutch government recommended their citizens take 5 minute showers in response to the shocking Russian gas shut-off during the Ukrainian-Russian conflict.
- Lighting (373 kWh per person; 11.85% of all electricity use) – The fourth biggest user of electricity is lighting. Lighting costs have been going down since the adoption of compact fluorescent lights and light emitting diode lights. Both of these choices are more energy efficient than classic incandescent bulbs. This is measured in lumens (or units of light) per kWh of electricity. Obviously look to switch to the new lighting types when your old bulbs give out.
- Refrigerators (253 kWh per person; 8.05% of all electricity use) – People love fridges. They’re found in kitchens, in basements, in garages, basically all over the house. Its the combination of fridges that consumes so much electricity. The figures given by the EIA are aggregate of all refrigerators. Apartments obviously will see less refrigerators, but this seems to be true of any appliance that scales with space. If you want to cut down on energy use here, take a look at our most energy efficient refrigerators.
- Entertainment (249 kWh per person; 7.92% of all electricity use) – Big televisions, sound systems, home theaters, game systems … these all constitute the rapidly growing sector of home entertainment. Since the coronavirus pandemic a lot of entertainment has shifted to the home. We wouldn’t be surprised if this figure outpaces other electricity uses.
- Laundry (180 kWh per person; 5.72% of all electricity use) – We combined the numbers for washing and drying. But obviously you can cut down on the drying if you line dry. Consider also using cold wash with a high efficiency washer when your current washing machine gives out.
- Cooking appliances (91 kWh person; 2.89% of all electricity use) – The EIA didn’t break down what constitutes electricity use in cooking. However, we’re guessing this includes electric stoves, microwave ovens, electric ovens, home coffee machines, home waffle makers etc. These are all the electric appliances found in the kitchen and part of food preparation. Cooking with natural gas might be more efficient.
- Humidifiers and Dehumidifiers (66 kWh per person; 2.09% of all electricity use) – From personal experience, I can tell you that dehumidifiers are incredibly noisy, inefficient machines. Running a machine all day and night over the course of a year could in fact turn out to be far more expensive than the figures given here. Living in humid climates predisposes you to using dehumidifiers. Conversely living in dry climates leads to greater humidifier use.
- Free-standing freezers (59 kWh per person; 1.86% of all electricity use) – We love our refrigerators. It turns out that people keep freezers separate from refrigerators and this category is a gigantic consumer of electricity also.
How Do You Use Electricity More Efficiently In Apartments?
Many people are not aware of how much electricity their appliances use. Here are some tips on How to use electricity more efficiently in apartments:
- Given that cooling is one of the biggest electricity uses – consider using ceiling fans to circulate air in the room. Ceiling fans use less electricity than air conditioners and will generate a cooler feeling in the summertime.
- Get a power strip for all your electronics and plug it into one outlet. This way, you can easily turn off your electronics with one switch when you leave the room or sleep.
- Educate your roommates and family members about conserving energy. Tell them how much money you’ll save on the electric bill by using less electricity.
- Use natural light during the day instead of artificial light. Open the shades and curtains to let in as much natural light as possible.
- Purchase energy-efficient appliances. When it’s time to replace an appliance, such as a refrigerator, look for one with an Energy Star label. Energy-efficient appliances use less electricity and save you money on your electric bill.
- Unplug appliances and electronics when they’re not in use. Even when turned off, many appliances and electronics continue to draw power from the outlet. This is known as the phantom power drain problem. So, unplug them when you’re not using them to save energy.
These tips will help you conserve energy and save money on your electric bill.
In conclusion, it’s important to be mindful of how much electricity your appliances use. Some appliances, like ovens and air conditioners, use much power and can add up over time. Other appliances, like televisions and computers, use less power but are used more often. All appliances add to your electric bill, so it’s important to only use them when you need them and to turn them off when you’re finished.
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Anna Lauer is a writer, gardener, and homesteader living in rural Wisconsin. She has written for Mother Earth News, Grit, and Hobby Farms magazines. Anna is writing a new book about growing your food for free and an ultimate guide to producing food at little to no cost. When she’s not writing or gardening, Anna enjoys spending time with her husband and two young daughters.