Contributed by Adam Graham, a construction industry analyst at Fixr.com
When it comes to residential energy consumption, people are constantly striving for ways to reduce their monthly bills and energy usage and wastage. By looking at the US Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) annual energy outlook, we can see the top 10 appliances that are consuming the most energy in U.S. single-family homes.
We use energy every day in a variety of areas of our daily lives, and although we may struggle to live without it, there are ways we can cut down on consumption. In the graphic below, we analyze the top 10 home energy appliances using the most energy, along with ways to reduce their consumption. This information could help homeowners make wiser choices in regards to their energy efficiency efforts but also understand a house’s energy needs and main energy consumers if, for example, they are considering investing in solar panels at home or opting for renewable energy sources for their systems’ fuels.
The above graphic shows which appliances use the most energy by the percentage of total end-use in single-family homes. They are grouped by appliance, apart from “Other Uses”, which is made up of various devices that individually do not necessarily make much of a notable impact, whereas together make up 26.2% of the total.
By far the biggest user of energy in homes are heaters, accounting for 31.3% of a home’s total energy consumption. Here then is where the greatest focus should be applied for reducing energy. One of the first steps is to carry out an energy audit, which can tell homeowners where energy is being lost. Once identified, efforts can be made to specific parts of the home to ensure heating efficiency. One main area that causes heat to escape is insulation issues. Homeowners will find loose-fill insulation to be the easiest to have installed, whereas new home builders should opt for spray foam.
Using 13.6% of a home’s energy, water heaters are the second-biggest consumer. A necessity for year-round use, finding energy-efficient solutions is a priority when looking to reduce consumption. One way is to install a tankless water heater, due to the fact that they only heat water as and when it is needed, as opposed to continuously heating water throughout the day. Another option that uses renewable energy is a solar water heater. The cost of a solar water heater averages between $2,800 and $9,800 depending on the type.
To cool a house requires significantly less energy than to heat it, with 10.7% of the total. However, it is still number 3 on the list and therefore one of the areas where focus on energy efficiency efforts should be made. Just like how heat can escape from a home, so can cool air. Similar methods for reducing heat wastage should be applied here, such as carrying out an energy audit and installing insulation. Weatherstripping a home will also help seal up gaps and cracks to stop cool air escaping or hot summer air from entering. New appliances reach levels of over 98% efficiency, so updating them is a must-consider option too.
The refrigerator in a home consumes 4% of the total energy. As mentioned, newer appliances use up less energy, so switching to a smart fridge is recommended. Smart fridges also alert owners if there is a problem. As always with new appliances, Energy Star-rated ones are best for lowering energy usage.
As with refrigerators, a clothes dryer is another appliance that can be replaced with a newer, Energy Star-rated version. Clothes dryers use up 3.2% of a home’s energy, so cutting down on dependence on them helps. People should take advantage of line drying whenever possible.
Lighting a home uses 2.8% of the total energy consumption. Although it may not be a huge amount on its own, combining energy-saving efforts with other appliances will have a greater impact. Switching to smart lighting that detects when a person leaves a room will help save energy.
Smart plugs are also a useful way to save energy on home entertainment equipment, which accounts for 2.8% of a home’s energy. Smart plugs shut off the power completely, usually during the night. They can also track energy data to know how to better control the usage of different devices.
Cooking appliances in the kitchen use up 1.3% of the total home energy usage. Although not a staggering amount by itself, it can still be reduced quite simply by adjusting habits accordingly. Some examples are using the correct sized pots and pans, choosing the right appliance, and keeping the appliances clean.
Computer and computing equipment uses 1.1% of the energy consumed at home. Shutting computers off completely at night will help reduce this amount. There are also computers which are more energy-efficient than others, meaning it’s wise to shop around when it’s time to buy a new one.
10. Furnace Fans & Boiler Circulation Pumps
The mechanisms to work devices that heat homes and water contribute to energy consumption themselves, adding 1.1% to the overall energy usage in a home. One way to save on energy, in this case, is to switch to a heat pump, one of the most energy-efficient options, although they are mostly recommended for mild climates. For colder climates, opt for high-efficiency furnaces and boilers.
Whereas these appliances make up the top 10 individually, it’s also worth noting that there are a number of household appliances that when combined make up 26.2% of the overall energy consumption at home. These appliances include heating elements, natural gas-and propane-fueled lights, electric and electronic devices, pool heaters, spa heaters, motors, outdoor grills, and backup electricity generators. Although individually these elements are not enough to make the top 10 list, energy-saving tactics should also be applied to them.
Being aware of where energy is consumed the most in a home allows people to focus their efforts on bringing those energy levels down. Whether it is to save on monthly bills or protect the local environment, it is useful to know where and how to cut consumption.
About the author
Adam Graham is a Construction Industry Analyst at Fixr.com, a website that offers home remodeling cost-guides and connects homeowners with service professionals. He analyzes and writes about the home construction industry, interior design trends and real estate.