Our homes today are loaded with more electronic media and electric appliances than ever before. According to data published by the Energy Information Administration (EIA), US household electricity consumption is expected to grow about 29% from now through 2040. But while the added electrical loads continue to provide easier and more pleasant lives for us, it also brings higher and higher electricity bills.
The Anatomy of an Electricity Bill
A large portion of any electricity bill is usually attributable to central heating and air conditioning; I try to temper those costs by simply adjusting my programmable thermostat higher in the summer (78 degrees F) and lower (68 degrees F) in the winter. But what about other home appliances? How much do they contribute to the monthly bill?
To help answer that question, I’ve put together a couple of simple spreadsheets that approximate hourly and monthly energy consumption of some common household appliances and electronics, as shown in the top and bottom figures, respectively. Simply pick an appliance and then look at the column that best represents your approximate electricity costs. In my case it is currently about $0.18/kWh.
Keep in mind the energy figures are only gross approximations and, as a result, your experience may be different. You should also be aware that these cost approximations do not consider phantom power that many appliances draw when they are switched off. For the most part, these phantom loads only increase the appliance’s energy consumption by a few watt-hours, but extremely frugal folks can still squeeze additional savings from their electricity bill by unplugging these appliances or using a power strip to cut power to them when they are not in use.
Some Interesting Observations
A look at the figures reveal some interesting observations:
- If you like to drink coffee all day long, your coffee maker could be costing you more in energy costs than your refrigerator! If your coffee maker is on for 8 hours per day then it is, as can be seen in the second figure.
- Besides the coffee maker, other so-called “energy vampires” include medium and large aquariums, and portable space heaters. As the second figure shows, these items really can add to your monthly electricity bill.
- I have six ceiling fans in my house running 24 hours a day. At 16 cents per kilowatt hour, those fans are costing me $34 per month. However, they are also saving me money by helping to reduce the amount of time my central air is running.
- You may be happy to know that cutting back on your television and computer use will provide only minimal energy savings.
If you would like the actual Excel spreadsheet I created to make your own energy cost estimates, send me an e-mail and I will be more than happy to send it to you.
You can find more information on how to calculate energy consumption and tips on how to save energy at the US Department of Energy website.
Photo Credit: urawa