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Last updated: 17 May 2023

16 Appliances Consuming the Most Energy in Your Home

The Hidden Cost on Your Electricity Bill

Our daily routines revolve around electronic appliances that consume more energy than we realise. Mobile phones, video games, computers, washing machines, and the list goes on. In fact, the average 3-person UK home uses 3000kWh of electricity each year, which means the electricity bill comes out to be £850.20.

But there’s a hidden cost on your energy bill. All of the appliances that you leave plugged in even when not in use are slowly consuming electricity in the home. And the reality is that 23% of your electricity is essentially going to waste on these vampire devices.

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They are the appliances that are in standby mode and still consume electricity, even when turned “off” just because they’re still plugged into an outlet.

Standby mode is supposed to be for when the appliance will be used actively again in just a moment. But instead, many electronics stay on in standby mode wasting energy through power consumption needlessly.

Fighting these vampire devices is important because living costs continue to rise due to all-time high energy costs. Eliminating unnecessary energy use can save the average household £147 on their annual energy bills.

The key to getting rid of vampire devices is knowing your electricity usage, how much electricity common household appliances consume and when to unplug them.

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The graph above reflects the proportion of energy used by a device actively compared to a device in standby mode. Consider that the graph represents the amount of energy if you used the appliance non-stop for a whole year. This is the case for most devices in your household on standby mode, but it’s less plausible to assume that you’d be boiling water in a water kettle for a whole year.

If you feel like you pay more for electric items than you should, read on to find out more about which appliances around your home consume the most active/standby energy and tips to save energy.

This thorough list of appliances’ energy consumption covers electrical devices for common rooms in your home from the kitchen, to the bathroom, living room and office. We’ll also calculate the cost of running everyday appliances to see where savings can be made.

Home Energy Consumption Overview

  • 1 in 5 Brits are unaware that home appliances use energy when not in use, and even more only turn them off occasionally
  • A shower is the most energy-intensive appliance and costs you 37p for a 10-minute shower
  • It costs you 1p of electricity to make a cup of tea.
  • Newer devices are designed to be more energy efficient than older ones.
  • Watching 2 hours of your favourite show on the television costs you 10p.
  • 1 hour of playing on a video game console will cost you almost 6p per hour.
  • An Economy 7 metre can benefit from cheaper E7 off-peak electricity rates, saving you around £300 annually.

Renewable energy sources, such as solar panels and heat pumps, can save homeowners money on their energy bills each year; making expensive home appliances cheaper to run long term and increase their energy efficiency. Given the current energy prices, and cost of living, however making this switch can be costly. Our tips below offer great ways to save money now, reduce your carbon footprint and discover more about your electrical appliances.

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Energy Consumption in the Kitchen

The kitchen is one of the rooms with the most vampire devices because, by nature, appliances like fridges and freezers need to constantly stay on. In fact, your kitchen appliances account for approximately 17% of the average household’s electricity bill. This includes the fridge, freezer, hob, oven, kettle, microwave, and other kitchen appliances.

1. Water Kettle

For such a small kitchen appliance, water kettles use a lot of energy. A standard 3 kilowatt (kW) water kettle costs 6p to bring a full kettle (2 litres) to a boil. And if you just wanted 1 cup of tea, it would cost you about 1p to boil the water.

Even when turned off, the majority of modern kettles draw 30W (watts) of electricity each hour. That means a year of keeping your water kettle plugged in, you’ve spent 44p of electricity not using it.

Energy Saving Tip

Filling the water kettle with only what you need will save you energy and money because you’re not spending energy to boiler anything needlessly. For instance, if you boil a full 2-litre kettle when you’re only making tea for two people, then you’re wasting 4p each time you fill and boil the kettle.

2. Refrigerator

On average, a fridge (or fridge freezer) uses 165kWh per year, you spend about 9p (.55kWh) on your fridge daily. So over the course of a year, you can expect to be paying £46 in electricity costs to run your fridge.

Energy Saving Tip

By nature, a fridge needs to stay on all day and night, so turning it off isn’t a sensible option. But when buying a fridge, you do have control over how energy-efficient your fridge is. Given that a refrigerator can last up to 17 years, you’ll want to invest in one that saves energy and money.

Also, we recommend getting one without extra features, such as the automatic defrost, because you can save half the energy use by manually defrosting your fridge freezer.

3. Microwave

A regular 1.5kW power rating microwave will cost you about 7p for every 10 minutes you use it.

If your microwave has a clock display that’s always on, it’s good to consider that they’re always using at least a little energy. For instance, if you keep your microwave plugged in all the time, like most households, it adds an extra £16.37 to your energy bill every year. Unplugging, or switching off at the mains, can therefore reduce your electric bill.

Energy Saving Tip

It may be surprising, but in terms of energy, microwaves are more efficient and quicker at cooking than ovens as they only need to heat the food itself, not the air space inside. They’re also more energy efficient and have an appliance venergy transfer rate of 30-40% while stoves have only 12-14%.

4. Dishwasher

The average dishwasher, per hour, will use 1.2kWh and cost you 36p. That means for every 100 loads you do, you’re spending £36.

And on standby mode, your dishwasher only uses 3W. But in a year the electricity usage costs add up to £7.44.

Energy Saving Tip

Washing your dishes by hand is an alternative option, but it won’t save you any energy. A dishwasher uses 10 times less water than if you were to wash the same number of dishes by hand.

The best way to save on energy using a dishwasher would be to only do full loads. As a bonus, if your dishwasher has an “eco” setting, it can save you energy because it washes for longer, but at a lower temperature.

5. Toaster

If you use a 1kW toaster for 10 minutes, it would cost you about 4p. Essentially, the more toasty you like your bread, the more money you’re using.

Most bread toasters are not considered vampire devices as they use little to no standby energy. And any standby energy they do consume is considered negligible because of its amount.

Energy Saving Tip

When toasting bread, toasters should actually be your go-to. You should avoid toasting bread in the oven or on the stove because a toaster can use up to 50% of the amount of energy.

Energy Consumption in the Bathroom

Wet appliances found in the bathroom tend to be energy-hungry appliances because they also heat the water they use. Appliances such as washing machines, showers, and tumble dryers account for about 16% of the typical energy usage bill.

6. Shower

You probably don’t realise it while showering, but the electric shower is one of the most expensive household appliances in terms of electricity usage. Not only does it use a lot of water (about 77 litres for 10 minutes), but if you, like most people, prefer heated water while showering, then you’re paying 37p for a 10-minute shower that uses 8kWh. That means a daily 10-minute shower costs you £137 by the end of the year.

Energy Saving Tip

The best ways to save energy with a shower is simply to take shorter showers. Reducing your shower time by 2 minutes, can save you £27 every year in power.

7. Tumble Dryer

The tumble dryer is the second most energy-heavy appliance (second to the shower). A standard 4.5kWh washer would cost you £1.2 per cycle.

When left plugged in and on standby, a tumble dryer uses 2.60W an hour. In a year, that’s equivalent to £4.79 in electricity costs.

Energy Saving Tip

Compared to other smaller appliances, the impact of a tumble dryer on your energy bill is very noticeable. Getting a more energy-efficient tumble dryer can definitely help you cut down on costs. In the meantime, an easier alternative is to simply forego the tumble dryer and just air-dry your clothing, especially on warm days in the summer.

8. Washing Machine

With a 2.1kW electric washing machine, you spend 60p for a single regular 1-hour load. Leaving your washing machine on standby for 1 hour costs you less than 1p, but for a full year that’ll cost you £4.73.

Energy Saving Tip

Washing at a lower temperature, such as 30°C instead of 40°C, can save you around 40% of energy. If the average household uses the washer 245 times a year, that means you save almost £50 by washing at 30°C.

And if you want to save further you can. Since 2013, the EU’s Ecodesign initiative has made 20°C programmes compulsory on new machine models.

Energy Consumption in the Living Room

Living rooms nowadays are filled with smaller electronic devices that we’ve become reliant on. These devices, such as our game consoles, televisions, phones, and tablets, account for approximately 5% of your electricity bill.

9. Video Game Console

Newer models of game consoles are much more powerful than they used to be and can now use 0.2kW. So the next time a couple of hours pass you by while playing, just know that it costs 5p for every hour to power it.

While that may not seem like much, you’re also spending money when you’re not playing. In a year, you can save as much as £12.17 just by taking your game console out of standby mode by unplugging the power cord.

Energy Saving Tip

Modern video game consoles are network-connected standby devices. This means that even in standby mode they are connected to the internet and consuming high amounts of energy. So unplugging your game console may stop you from receiving automatic software updates, but it also saves you as much as £12 every year.

10. Television (LCD)

How much electricity does a tv use? Well, a standard 0.18kW LCD television will cost you 5p every hour you use it.

When you’re not actively using your television, chances are that it’s still plugged in. But did you know that even when in standby mode it can cost you £24.61 per year? And it’s an additional £23.10 if you have a set-top box.

Energy Saving Tip

If you have a plasma television, it’s worth considering switching to an LCD television instead because they’re, on average, 3 times more energy efficient.

11. Smart Home Devices

It’s not uncommon for homes to always have smart speakers or other smart electronics that help control other appliances running in the background.

For perspective, a smart speaker uses 5W per hour when in use and uses 3W per hour on standby and would cost you £7.44 if it were left plugged in and on standby all year. That means if you were to use it for 1 hour a day, in a year you’d still be paying £7.13 for all the times you’re not using it.

Energy Saving Tip

Taking advice from a voice assistant on a smart speaker doesn’t come for free as many may think. Using one to turn your TV or lights on means the device is using much more power than usual.

Granted, having one of these devices always on probably won’t make a large dent on your monthly energy bills, but the more devices you add, the more impact you’ll see. When choosing smart home devices, it’s important to look at how energy efficient it is as these devices are made to stay on all the time waiting for your commands for tasks.

12. Phone Charger

Your phone charger is a particular vampire device that you probably have multiple of plugged in around the house. Each hour that you’re actively charging your phone costs you very little at 0.1p.

But what’s more surprising is probably knowing that your phone is still consuming 60% of that power when your phone is already fully charged! When your phone charger is plugged in without a connected device, it’s technically considered “no-load mode,” but in reality, it’s still another vampire device.

However, it consumes such a minuscule amount of energy that even if you kept the charger plugged in all year round, it would still only cost you 63p.

Energy Saving Tip

Your phone charger uses 3 different energy amounts: when actively charging, when plugged in with no device connected, and when your phone is plugged in but is already at full battery. The last situation often occurs when people charge their phones at night and don’t remove it from the charger until the morning. A simple solution is either to charge your phone as soon as you wake up or right before sleep.

Energy Consumption in the Office

The office is another room that’s a culprit for both small appliances and medium-sized devices from computers and printers to internet modems. And when you include general lighting into the equation you’ll find that all of this accounts for about 6% of your electricity bill.

13. Computer

A desktop computer uses 450W of energy per hour when actively used. This compares to 5.4W when on standby or sleep mode.

By turning your computer fully off instead of in sleep mode when you’re not using it, you could be saving on electricity £11.22 each year.

Energy Saving Tip

Naturally, using your computer less would also reduce your energy running costs, but that’s not always an option. If you’re someone who uses the computer daily, then switching to a laptop may be a good energy-saving option as laptops use up to 85% less electricity than computers in a year.

14. Internet Modem

Small network equipment like modems don’t require much electricity, but this home energy vampire is typically always on and uses energy even when you’re asleep, not home, or on holiday. On average, If you have a 10W modem, you’re spending 7p a day for constant wifi access, and in a year that adds up to £25.

Energy Saving Tip

We often keep modems plugged in out of convenience, but the truth is, there are many parts of the day that we don’t use the wifi, such as when we’re sleeping or out of the house. Just by unplugging your modem before sleeping, you could be saving £8 a year of energy and reduce electricity consumption.

15. Printer

An inkjet printer uses a very minuscule amount of money when you use it. It’s about 0.1p for 10 minutes of active use, but if you’re someone who doesn’t use a printer daily yet keeps it plugged in, then it’ll cost you £3.81 a year of standby energy.

Energy Saving Tip

Inkjet printers are the preferred type of printer if you’re interested in saving energy because laser printers use 10x the amount of energy. Newer inkjet models are also continually becoming more energy efficient and sustainable.

16. Light Bulb

A 100W LED lightbulb costs you almost 3p to use per hour. And if you were to leave the light on for an entire day, then you’d be spending 68p.

Energy Saving Tip

LED light bulbs are growing more popular than halogen bulbs as they are more energy efficient. If the average household replaced all halogen light bulbs with LEDs, it would save around £55 a year on bills.

 

 

 

Hannah Maza
Written by Hannah Maza, Writer

As a writer with a deep understanding of low-carbon energy systems, Hannah aims to breakdown knowledge barriers and share insights to empower individuals in their pursuit of creating more environmentally conscious homes.

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