The average U.S. household spent around $115 per month on electricity to power their electrical appliances in 2019. And while this number varies from state to state depending on the local cost of electricity and the household’s electricity needs, the general rule of thumb is that the average household could be saving on their electricity costs. One study even found that most households only actually use around 65% of what they spend every month—the other 35% goes to waste due to vampire appliances (those that use electricity even when “off”).
So what makes your electricity bill so high? Which appliances use the most electricity? And how can you save on those costs? Below we break down the answers to these questions.
The largest electricity consumer in the average household is your heating and cooling appliance. By a long shot. Central air conditioners and heaters use tons of energy in order to keep your home set to the right temperature. Although it depends on which one you use more (heating or cooling), heating generally uses more electricity throughout the year, accounting for 25+% of your annual electricity usage.
If you have an electric water heater, then it is likely the second biggest energy consumer in your home. You use your water heater for things like showering, washing dishes, using the sink, and laundry. Altogether those activities add up to make water heaters a pretty significant suck of energy every month.
Lightbulbs have become far more energy-efficient over the years. Today, the top lighting technology on the market, LEDs, use significantly less energy than their predecessors (CFLs and incandescent bulbs) and also last much longer which reduces waste. Not to mention they cost less to run too.
Still, lighting accounts for a significant portion of your electricity usage every month because of how much usage they get.
Although your refrigerator actually doesn’t require that much energy to run every hour, it racks up quite a bit of electricity usage simply because it’s always on.
The monthly energy usage of your washers and dryer depends on how often you do laundry, of course. But, when you do run the washer and dryer, they tend to suck up a lot of electricity, especially if you run your washer with hot water. On average, doing laundry accounts for about 5% of your annual electricity usage.
Cooking is energy-intensive, especially if you have an electric oven and cooktop. Electric ovens generally are responsible for about 3% of your monthly electricity usage.
Your dishwasher requires a relatively low amount of electricity. Generally speaking, it accounts for around 2% of your monthly usage total.
TV and cable boxes are remarkably energy efficient today. The problem is, they often run even when you’re not using them. Those standby hours can rack up some electricity usage, and as a result, your TV and cable box consume around 2% of your monthly electricity total.
There are some appliances out there that are common culprits of using up your electricity even when you’re not using them. These appliances are called vampire appliances because they suck your electricity and can result in unnecessarily high electricity bills. Here are some of the most common:
There are a few ways to solve for vampires. First, you can unplug an appliance when you’re not using them. Another strategy is to install a smart outlet that automatically monitors your usage and cuts electric supply to items that are on standby. The bottom line is: if it’s on standby mode or it’s turned on and you’re not using it, then it’s probably costing you unnecessarily.
The first step to saving on your electricity costs is figuring out how much electricity each of your appliances is using. Then you can start to identify areas where you can cut back or save. We can help. Check out our energy cost calculators for common home appliances.
There are lots of strategies out there that help you save on your electricity costs. You could try reducing the usage of your biggest energy users like your AC and heating devices. Or you could install new, more energy-efficiency appliances that will save you money long term. Some people like to take an active role while others want a set-it-and-forget-it strategy. Here are some of the most effective strategies.
Smart appliances will monitor your electricity usage and automatically turn off appliances when you’re not using them. They can help you cut down on your electricity usage by a ton! If you are trying to save on your electricity costs, but don’t have the time to go around plugging and unplugging your appliances, check out investing in some smart outlets and appliances (like thermostats) which will automatically monitor your usage for you.
In 1992, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency launched the ENERGY STAR program to help consumers understand how much electricity their appliances consume. In general, ENERGY STAR-rated appliances are the most efficient appliances on the market. While they may have a slightly higher upfront cost than other non-ENERGY STAR products, they usually can help you save in the long run by keeping your electricity bill low. If you’re in the market for a new appliance, let ENERGY STAR be your guide!
Appliances like computers, TVs, ACs and heaters have timers and other built-in energy-saving features. Make sure you’re taking advantage of these as they can really help you cut down on your costs. For example, when it comes to heating and cooling your home, make sure you’re only making your HVAC system work when you’re home. And if you’re prone to falling asleep in front of the TV or forgetting to turn it off, you can simply set a timer so that your TV will turn off automatically after inactivity. You can also try switching your TV and computer to energy-saving mode during the night when you don’t need the backlight to be as bright.
Another good tip to help you save on your electricity is to run appliances like your dishwasher and laundry machines during periods of low electricity demand. Electricity doesn’t always cost the same—its price fluctuates depending on how much demand there is for electricity at a given time. Usually, the price of electricity is highest in the mid-evening when everyone is home, using their lights, cooking dinner, watching TV, etc. One strategy for saving is to anticipate these rate hikes and wait until later in the night or even schedule your dishwashing or clothes washing for during the day.
An insulated house can go a long way in helping you cut down on your heating and cooling costs—you want to make sure that your appliances aren’t working in vain! Lots of states offer free energy audits where a professional will actually come to your home and see how efficient your home is. They’ll identify areas where you can improve to help you save money. If there’s a program in your city, definitely take advantage as insulating your home can go a long way in reducing how much you have to spend on things like temperature control. But rest assured, you can also do a DIY home energy audit using our handy checklist and many opportunities to make your home more efficient.
Clean energy is becoming more widespread, and cheaper. For example, if you have a suitable roof, you may be eligible for installing solar panels. That way, you can not only cut your electricity costs to $0 per month, but you can even sell any excess electricity you produce back to the grid.
And if you’re not able to install solar because your roof isn’t eligible or the upfront cost is simply too much, there are still options for you!
See if there’s a community solar program in your zip code. Community solar is a shared solar model that helps residents and businesses save on electricity costs in return for supporting solar power generation. You subscribe to a local solar farm and get credits off your utility bill each month. Community solar's benefits also go beyond your bill—like creating local jobs and minimizing pollution in your area.
Many states in the U.S. have deregulated their energy markets—which means that you can now shop for your electricity and choose where it comes from. Now, third-party energy suppliers will offer cheaper rates, and if you stay active in looking for these cheaper rates, you can lock in some serious savings. Just be prepared that this can be a time-consuming task.
Perch is here to make it easy for you to save on your electricity costs. If you live in a state with a deregulated energy market, then you may be missing out on chances to save on your electricity. When you sign up for Perch, you set your energy preferences. Then our automated platform monitors the energy market and switches you to the plan that is most aligned with your preferences, helping you to lock in savings without having to do any of the heavy lifting yourself.