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Electricity Use for Kitchen and Laundry Appliances - Accent Energy, New York
Kitchen and laundry appliances help make the American way of life possible. We have time to relax with family and friends because of our washing machines, microwaves, convection ovens and dishwashers. You know these appliances are powered by electricity, but you might not know how much energy these devices consume and the effect they have on your monthly utility bills.
According to the Energy Information Administration, kitchen and laundry appliances account for approximately 33% of household electricity consumption. The biggest energy user in your kitchen is probably your refrigerator, and many homes have two of these. As a result of the refrigerator's thirst for power, manufacturers have worked hard to increase efficiency in the past few decades. Most of the rest of your household electricity is consumed by water heaters, space heaters and lighting.
Many kitchen and laundry appliances also run on a highly cyclical basis. Your refrigerator, for instance, doesn't use much electricity until the internal temperature gets too high, causing the compressor to start up. A dishwasher's power consumption spikes when it's whooshing through a load. (This usage increases dramatically when you use the "drying" feature, too.)
Many kitchen and laundry appliances consume energy when they don't seem to be running. Consider this: all of the battery chargers plugged into your kitchen outlets are consuming small amounts of electricity, all day and night long. The low, slow power drain sometimes allows these appliances to remain in standby mode, so they will be ready for you when you need them.
The amount of energy your kitchen and laundry appliances need is also a regional matter. In the middle of summer in the heart of New York, your refrigerator and freezer work overtime to keep your food at the right temperature, while your electric oven must do slightly less work to heat up. Conversely, a freezer uses far less energy during a frigid Northeast winter.
Each appliance consumes a different amount of wattage; the higher the number, the more energy consumed. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, here are the approximate wattages for some of the appliances in your home:
- Coffee makers: 900-1200 Watts
- Washers: 350-500 Watts
- Dryers: 1800-5000 Watts
- Microwaves: 750-1100 Watts
- A 16-cubic-foot refrigerator: 725 Watts
- Toasters: 800-1400 Watts
Thankfully, there are some ways you can minimize the amount of electricity used by your appliances, which will reduce your power bill in turn. To help Americans make energy-conscious decisions, the government created ENERGY STAR. The majority of kitchen and laundry appliances you'll find in stores are rated by ENERGY STAR, with the information printed on big yellow stickers that are usually placed on the front of appliances in retail locations. In addition to telling you how many kilowatts per hour the appliances consume, the stickers also make it easy to compare the amount to other similar models. Appliance energy efficiency should be part of your buying decision; although a more efficient dryer might be slightly more expensive at first, purchasing that one might pay off in the long run.
Try to run those cyclical appliances less frequently. Instead of drying two small loads separately, consider drying them both together. (Best of all, you could put your clothes out on a line, allowing the sun and wind to do all of the work, instead!)
To increase the efficiency of those appliances that consume "phantom loads," plug them into a power strip. Simply turn off the power strip when those devices are not in use. Even though it's a little less convenient, keep those cell phone chargers unplugged until you really need them.
Check the rubber seals on your refrigerator or freezer units. Over time, this material can wear away, causing leaks. Replace these gaskets when needed. Additionally, you should keep these refrigerators and freezers as full as possible, because each food item inside will keep the others cool. If your refrigerator has been around for a while, you might even save money if you replace it with a newer, more efficient model.
In a lot of ways, your kitchen and laundry room are your home's control center. Understanding which appliances use the most energy and knowing how to reduce this amount can help you run your household while keeping your energy bills where you want them to be.