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Which Appliances Cost the Most Money to Run?

Jun 13, 2014

Appliances that are not operating in an energy efficient way can be one of the reasons for your high energy bills. If you’re wondering which appliances cost the most money to run, here’s a list of the top five:

1. Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning

The heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system comes in at number one on the list. Up to 44 percent of the typical American homeowner’s utility bill will go towards their HVAC costs. According to ENERGY STAR, once your HVAC system has hit the 15-year mark, you’ll probably have to look into upgrading to an energy efficient version. If replacing your HVAC system is not feasible, here are some steps you can take to help your system work more efficiently:

2. Water Heater

The water heater is number two on the list. According to the Department of Energy (DOE), water heating can account for about 18 percent of a household’s utility bill. Some tips to reduce your water heating costs include:

  • Consider installing low-flow faucets and showerheads.
  • Repair leaky faucets ASAP – a leaky faucet results in gallons of wasted water.
  • Set the thermostat on your water heater to 120°F (a comfortable hot water temperature for most uses).
  • Insulate your electric hot-water storage tank.

3. Refrigerator and Freezer

According to the DOE, refrigerators consume the most energy of all kitchen appliances. If your fridge or freezer is more than 15 years old, your best bet is to replace it with a new energy efficient ENERGY STAR model. If that’s not currently an option, you could also:

  • Disable the power-saver switch if your fridge has one. This switch activates indoor heaters to reduce external condensation; if you don’t have external condensation, you don’t need the heaters.
  • Set the ideal temperatures:
    • Refrigerators: 36˚F – 38˚F
    • Freezers: 0˚F – 5˚F
  • Defrost regularly – more than 0.25 inch of frost buildup impacts energy efficiency.
  • Check the door seals by closing the door on a piece of paper to see if it’s held firmly in place; if not, you need to replace the seal.

4. Clothes Dryer

Clothes dryers rank number four on the list. If your dryer is equipped with a moisture sensor, this can be used to increase its efficiency and reduce energy consumption. The moisture sensor turns your dryer off once the clothes are dry. Some other dryer tips include:

  • Dry full loads to maximize electricity usage.
  • Dry towels and heavier cottons separately from lighter-weight clothes.
  • Clean the lint screen after every drying cycle; it improves air circulation and prevents fire hazards.

5. Dishwasher

The last on the list is the dishwasher, which accounts for around two percent of a typical household’s annual electricity bill. If your model dates from 1994 or earlier, it’s time to replace it with an energy efficient ENERGY STAR qualified dishwasher. Otherwise, here are some tips you can follow to reduce your dishwasher’s energy usage:

  • Don’t rinse off your dishes – scrape off large food pieces and bones. Only soak or pre-wash dishes with burned or dried-on food.
  • Run your dishwasher only when it’s full (but not overloaded).
  • Avoid using the “rinse hold” function for only a few dishes; it uses 3-7 gallons of hot water per use.

To find out which systems in your home are operating inefficiently and costing you money, you should contact a certified RESNET Home Energy Auditor for a home energy audit. This is the best way to learn how to make your home more energy efficient.