What Uses The Most Electricity In A Home?

Introduction – What Uses The Most Electricity In A Home

What uses the most electricity in a home? Knowing what drains electricity the most and what you can do about it plays a great role in the journey to reducing carbon by knowing how to prioritize what to focus on first. Carbon emissions due to electricity use is one of the biggest sources of anthropogenic carbon – it’s estimated that 10% of carbon emissions are due to residential use.

For individuals, understanding and mitigating electricity use may prove to be an important component of reducing carbon emissions. Below we list the top 10 uses of electricity at home and their percentage usage of electricity. Interested in your own home? Get a smart meter to measure electricity use directly.

Central AC vents exchange warm air for cold via the refrigerant fluid pumped by the compressor

There are a lot of factors that have an impact on the amount of energy that you use in your house, such as the kind and number of appliances you have and how you use them. 

Plus depending on where you live, you will make use of one appliance over another.

People who live in warm areas like the Southern states in the US tend to use more air conditioning.

People who live in Northern Europe or near the Great Lakes tend to use more electric heating.

What Uses The Most Electricity In The House?

The short answer is appliances – like air conditioners, electric heaters, water heaters, lights, and refrigerators tend to use the most electricity since they are constantly running.

Other appliances like TVs, washers, dryers, and electric stoves also use a lot of electricity, but they run for a short period.

Air conditioning is the single largest consumer of electricity

To get a better idea of what uses the most electricity in your home, you can check your energy bill or use an electricity monitoring device.

This will help you to see where you can make changes to reduce your electricity usage.

The long answer is that you probably have a few appliances which dominate electricity usage. Let’s take a look.

Top 5 Appliances That Use The Most Electricity On Average

Here are the top 5 of the biggest electricity users in your home, and what you can do to minimize their impact on your bill:

  • Number 1 – Your air conditioner, on average, is the biggest electricity user, so be mindful of how often you’re using it and what temperature you have it set to. Again, upgrading to a more energy-efficient model can help reduce your electricity usage. Central ACs which cool down a large volume will use the most energy. But they will also be more efficient than putting a window unit in every room, as long as you can use all that cooled air.
  • Number 2 – Your electric heater is likely the second biggest energy user in your home, so make sure it’s well-maintained and set to a bearably low temperature. Consider investing in a more energy-efficient model if yours is old or inefficient. Consider also switching out inefficient heaters – electric radiative heating is one of the worst. If you live in a low carbon grid country like Iceland or Sweden, you’re in good shape because the grid is much cleaner than any fossil fuel. If you live in the US or UK, make sure you max out your efficiency.
  • Number 3 – The water heating is likely the third biggest energy user in your home. This could be tied to your heating system, or separate from it. It is also a fantastic area where you can save on electricity usage. Simply take shorter showers, or run the hot water less when you hand-wash dishes. Cutting down on hot water use will cut down on water heating. Since the Russian-Ukraine conflict in 2022, Europeans have advocated for lower energy use by reducing shower times from 10 minutes to 5minutes.
  • Number 4 – Lighting is likely the fourth biggest electricity use in your home. Definitely go for the high efficiency CFL/LED lights which are super low energy. Lighting is also something that can be controlled. When not in use, turn off the lights. Smart switches are a technical solution for making this easy – enabling control of lights from anywhere.
  • Number 5 – Finally, refrigerators are the fifth biggest electricity user at home which includes attached freezers. People also keep more than one fridge. Definitely consider investing in a high efficiency fridge. High efficiency doesn’t mean small. On the contrary, the highest efficiency fridges are the biggest.

You may reduce the amount of electricity you use in your house and save money on your utility bills if you follow the advice provided in this article. Get in touch with the utility company in your area or an energy efficiency expert if you want further information on how to decrease the amount of energy you use.

Percentage Electricity Use: Top 10 Types Of Appliances

To find out quantitatively what uses the most electricity in a home, we supply numbers and explain why these 10 home devices are such electricity hogs. We also discuss mitigation strategies designed to reduce your electricity consumption.

1. Air conditioners: 22.7% of electricity use

Air conditioners are one of the biggest energy hogs in the home, accounting for 22.7% of total electricity usage. If you have a central air system, be sure to keep it well maintained and clean so that it doesn’t have to work overtime to cool your home.

During the warmer months, try to set the temperature a few degrees higher than usual to reduce how much your AC unit has to run. Window units use substantially less energy but are more inefficient on a per square foot cooled basis.

2. Electrical heaters: 18.9% of electricity use

Electric heaters are very simple.

They use the electricity to generate heat directly. As electricity passes through heating elements, these elements heat up due to the resistive properties.

Electric heaters are one of the most inefficient house appliances.

We strongly recommend that you take a look at electricity-driven heat pumps, or natural gas furnaces to replace the electrical heater, or even a wood stove which are highly efficient except for the high upkeep cost of needing to refuel it all the time.

3. Water heating: 15.7% of electricity use

Water heaters are one of the biggest energy hogs in the home, accounting for 15.7% of total electricity usage. Space and water heating round out the big heating needs.

If you’re looking to save on your energy bill, it’s important to be mindful of how much hot water you’re using.

Take shorter showers, for example cutting it from 15 minutes to 10 minutes and down to 5 minutes, wash clothes in cold water, and only run the dishwasher when it’s full.

You can also insulate your water heater to reduce heat loss and save even more energy.

4. Lighting: 11.9%

Lighting accounts for 11.9% of total electricity usage, so it’s important to be mindful of how much lighting you’re using in your home.

Whenever possible, take advantage of natural light by opening shades and curtains. And when you do need to use artificial lighting, make sure to use energy-efficient bulbs such as LED or CFL bulbs.

Modern smart home control centers allow you to schedule the light on and off times which will stop you from forgetting to turn off lights during sleep.

5. Refrigerators: 8%

Refrigerators, including second refrigerators and little refrigerators, use in total 8% of the electricity in a home, so it’s important to make sure they’re running efficiently.

Refrigerators do not include standalone freezers, which are a bit further down the list in terms of electricity use (see below!).

Keep them full but not overcrowded so that they don’t have to work harder to cool the air.

And be sure to clean the coils regularly so that they don’t have to work as hard. See our separate analysis of the top most energy efficient refrigerators.

6. Televisions, DVD players, and stereos: 7.9%

Entertainment systems including Televisions, DVD players, and stereos account for 7.9% of the electricity usage in a typical home.

To save energy, make sure to turn off and unplug all electronics when they’re not in use.

In addition, make use of a power strip if at all possible; this will allow you to conveniently turn off several electronic gadgets by using just one switch.

These devices are notorious for using stand-by power, also known as vampire power.

Older power strips were simply a way to increase outlets but modern power strips have energy features.

7. Washers and dryers: 5.7%

Clothes washers and dryers use about 5.7% of the electricity in a home, so they aren’t as big of an energy hog as some other appliances.

However, you can save even more energy (and water) by washing your clothes in cold water whenever possible.

Newer washing machines are very effective at cleaning clothes in cold water, so you don’t have to worry about your clothes not coming out clean.

Run them as full as possible without overloading washers.

There are ways to reduce dryer use as well: regularly cleaning the lint trap, only drying full loads, choosing the right settings, hanging clothes, using the cool-down cycle, avoiding overstuffing, using dryer balls or sheets, unblocking the outside vent, using a timer, and cleaning the inside of the dryer.

8. Cooking: 2.9%

Electrical stoves, microwaves, toasters and related appliances comprise cooking electricity use.

Cook in large batches and upgrade equipment so you’re not using outdated stoves that use up more electricity than is needed.

9. Humidifiers and dehumidifiers: 2.1%

Temperature isn’t the only climate related metric that pushes up energy use.

High humidity makes high temperatures feel hotter because it renders our evaporative-cooling sweat to stop working.

A dehumidifier is used in the summer to bring humidity down inside a house.

Similarly, a humidifier adds moisture back when the air too dry.

10. Separate freezers: 1.9%

Many people keep a separate freezer in the garage or basement to store long-term items that need deep freeze.

As with fridges, fill freezers up to trap cold temperatures as much as possible. Also make sure to invest in a modern freezer that has a high efficiency.

Additional Ways To Save Electricity At Home

Want to do something about what uses the most electricity in a home? Read on for tips from ShrinkThatFootprint.

Install a programmable thermostat: A programmable thermostat can help you save money by automatically setting the temperature lower when you’re not home and higher when you are.

Upgrade to energy-efficient appliances: It is possible that your home appliances, especially those that are more than a few years old, are not as energy-efficient as newer versions. Investing in more efficient models can reduce your monthly energy costs.

Seal air leaks: Air leaks around doors and windows can let out cool air in the summer and warm air in the winter, making your HVAC system work harder to maintain the desired temperature. Sealing air leaks can help you save money and energy.

Replace old light bulbs: If you’re still using incandescent light bulbs, now is the time to switch to LED or CFL bulbs. Not only do they use less energy, but they also last longer, so you’ll save money in the long run.

Insulate your home: Proper insulation can help you save money by keeping the heat in during the winter and the cool air in during the summer. If your home isn’t properly insulated, you may be spending more on your energy bill than you need to.

Turn off electronics when you’re not using them: Electronics can use a lot of energy even when they’re turned off, so it’s important to unplug them or power them down when you’re not using them.

Utilize power strips: A power strip can help you save energy by allowing you to easily turn off multiple electronics with one switch. This is especially helpful for electronics that are in standby mode, which can still use a lot of energy.

Check This Out: Which country has more solar capacity that the rest of the world combined?

The Bottom Line – What Uses The Most Electricity In A Home

There are a lot of things that use electricity in a home, but some appliances and electronics use more than others.

Combined together heating and cooling use the most whether these are installed separately or part of a packaged unit.

To save money on your energy bill, it’s important to be mindful of how much electricity you’re using and to take steps to reduce your usage to reduce waste, and your costs. Synergistic to this is to find private electricity providers for example in California, assuming you’re in a deregulated state, that provide green electricity or better rates.

By making simple changes like switching to energy-efficient light bulbs or unplugging electronics when you’re not using them, you can make a big difference in your energy usage and your bottom line.

Staff Writer
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