Energy Usage of Electronics

Everyone wants to lower the cost of their energy bills, but not many people realize that their electronics are always using power. Learn energy usage of electronics and how you can use this knowledge to lower your utility bills.

Electronics and appliances in your home can be energy hogs, especially if they’re older. While some new electronics provide some power consumption information (for example if they come with an EnergyGuide label), you likely don’t know how much power your current electronics are using.

Your utility bill shows your overall electricity usage; however, it’s not easy to determine how much electricity your individual appliances and home electronics use. Knowing how much energy your electronics use helps you understand how much it costs you to use them and to save money on your utility bill.

Energy Use of Electronics

The EnergyGuide label on some appliances and electronics gives you an estimate of how much electricity the devices use. It shows you the average annual energy consumption and cost to operate it. However, not every device comes with an EnergyGuide label and your usage may deviate significantly from the estimated usage.

The energy use of any electronic device is based on its wattage. Many appliances draw a range of amps and the actual amount of power they consume depends on the setting or operating mode when they’re in use. For example, increasing the speed of a fan will consume more power. Most electronics also draw power when they’re “off” or in standby mode.

To find out how much power a device uses, you can calculate the energy consumption. Check the wattage of the product and estimate the time it’s being used every day. Typically, you can find the maximum wattage of electronics or appliances stamped on the bottom or back or on its nameplate. You can also find it in the owner’s manual or specification sheet. If the product is ENERGY STAR certified you may find detailed information on the ENERGY STAR website. This is especially helpful if you want to compare your current electronics with more efficient models.

Major Appliances and Home Electronics

Here’s the average power usage for the typical appliances and major home electronics in most American households. The actual usage depends on make, model, size and other variables such as settings or personal preferences.

Refrigerator

A typical 21-cubicfoot side-by-side refrigerator with a freezer uses about 780 watts when in operation. As refrigerators cycle on and off throughout day, you can estimate eight hours of operating time per day. In average, it will use 6,240 watt-hours or 6.24 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity per day. Keep in mind that your refrigerator uses more energy the more often you open the door and the longer you keep it open.

Dishwasher

The average modern dishwasher uses an average of 1,800 watts for a three-hour cycle. Using your dishwasher will use about 5.4 kWh for a normal cycle. The actual energy consumption varies not only by make and model, but also by the cycle you’re using. For example using the drying function will increase its energy consumption significantly.

Electric Stove

The average electric stove uses around 3,000 watts, which adds up to 3 kWh per hour. In comparison, the average microwave oven typically uses 1,000 watts.

Coffee Maker

Regular coffee makers draw about 600 to 1,200 watts depending on the model and use a significant amount of energy to keep your coffee warm after brewing. A Keurig beverage brewing system can draw a maximum of 1,500 watts and about 200-400 continuously.

Washer and Dryer

Other appliances like a clothes washer typically uses between 400 to 1,300 watts, depending on the size of the washer and the cycle you’re using. Energy Star rated models may use less than 500 watts. A typical dryer uses an average of 3,000 watts or 3 kWh per hour in use. Energy usage heavily depends on the temperature setting, spinning speed and soil level of your clothes.

Televisions

Since 2011, all TVs sold in the U.S. are required to carry the EnergyGuide label showing their annual usage and cost. If you want to do your own math, the average 50” LED TV uses about 0.1 kilowatt-hours per hour.

Personal Computer

A typical desktop computer uses between 50 and 250 watts. The actual consumption highly depends on how you use your computer and what applications you’re running. A modern laptop only consumes about 15 to 85 watts.

Game Consoles

Some last generation game consoles use an average of 90 watts. The original Xbox 360 console uses up to 203 watts when working at full performance, while the Xbox 360 E only uses a maximum of 120 watts. However, the power supply is rated for 245 watts of continuous power and 280 watts of maximum power. The actual power consumption depends significantly on what kind of games you’re playing or what function you’re using. Keep in mind that the instant on function uses about 13 watts, which adds up to 114 kWh per year.

Other Electronics

DVD or Blu-Ray, these players generally draw between 15 and 25 watts per hour, the Apple TV 4K draws 5.7 watts when streaming 4K HDR movies (U.S. version including power supply efficiency).

Calculate Energy Use and Costs

To calculate the daily energy consumption of a device, first estimate the number of hours it is on per day. Keep in mind that some appliances that seem to be always on, such as refrigerators, actually cycle on and off throughout the day to maintain the programmed temperature. Other electronics still draw a current in standby mode while they seem to be off. These “phantom loads” occur in most electronics with a standby mode, such as TVs, DVRs, stereos, computers and some kitchen appliances. Then use the following formula to calculate the kilowatt-hours the device uses per day:

(Wattage × Hours Used Per Day + Standby Wattage x Hours in Standby Per Day) ÷ 1000

Multiply the result with your electricity rate per kWh to calculate the cost to operate the device. You’ll find the cost per kilowatt-hour on your latest utility bill.

Phantom Loads

Current electronics with a standby or sleep mode typically draw power even when they’re “off”. This idle load is sometimes referred to as Phantom Load. According to a study by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NDRC) from 2015, nearly 23 percent of residential energy consumption is by inactive devices in idle mode. Plugging your electronics in power strips is the easiest way to turn them off completely and save money.