What are the biggest electricity consumers in a typical home?

As a baseline, consider that typical homes in the United States consume on average 30–60 kilo-Watt-hours (kWh) of electricity per day (=900–1800 kWh per month) at a cost of $0.10-$0.20 per kWh. Those running on electric heat often double these numbers.

  • In homes with electric heat, the heater can dominate all other electric consumers. Heat pumps, while considerably more efficient (1/3 – 1/2 the consumption) than straight electric resistance heat (like an electric baseboard heater) still consume substantial amounts of electricity. Consider that a typical heat pump system uses 3kW – 6kW while running, daily consumption in cold days can easily be 30–60kWh or more. This is why home insulation and air-tightness is such an important way of conserving energy. Same is true if the home is heated with oil, gas or propane – home heating and cooling costs dominate all others, so a tight, well insulated home pays dividends year after year.
  • Electric water heater – consumption varies drastically depending on a family size and hot-water usage. But an average is about 400 kWh per month. A modern heat-pump water heater can cut this in half.
  • Refrigerator/freezer – older units were much less efficient than a modern, EnergyStar unit. A typical range is 40–80 kWh/month.
  • Lighting – with the advent of energy efficient LED lights, this has shifted considerably. A home that has the equivalent of ten, 100W bulbs running 12 hours/day uses 12kWh per day or 360kWh/month. If all those bulbs were replaced by 14W LED bulbs that put out the same amount of light, that would be reduced to 1.7kWh/day or 50kWh/month. Lighting is an area where every home can dramatically reduce consumption by replacing conventional bulbs with LED in high use locations like the kitchen and living rooms.
  • Air conditioner – central air conditioners and their blowers consume from 3–7 kilo-Watt-hours (kWh) per hour of operation.
  • Home electronics – computers, DVRs, TV, stereos all add to a home’s use and together add up to 200W-1000W/hour, every hour. Typical consumption is 4–10kWh/day or 120–300kWh/month.
  • Cooking – electric ranges and ovens consume 2kW–4kW while running and might be operated for an hour or two per day on average.

Other items that add considerably to electric bills but are less common:

  • Pool pumps – most are drastically oversized and run 12 hours a day. A typical pump uses 2500W, so that’s 30kWh/day or 900 kWh/month! Replacing that with a two-speed or variable speed pump can cut this by 75% – well worth the investment.
  • Spas/Hot tubs – outdoor hot tubs use about 6–15kWh/day, depending on usage, design and temperature, call it 10kWh on average. That’s 300kWh/month. Since many people don’t use their tubs during the winter, it pays to shut it down for the winter, saving about $50/month.
  • Ponds – ponds have become very popular in the suburbs but most people don’t realize how much they cost to run. Those waterfalls require larger pumps, consuming 500W–1000W while a basic pond filter pump might use 100W-250W. Consider an average of 500W for 24 hours is 12kWh per day or 360kWh/month.

It’s extremely educational to install a whole-house energy monitor or use an inexpensive plug-in energy monitor to see how much energy each of your devices consume. But watch out, once you do, you may turn into a true energy geek, like me 🙂


2 thoughts on “What are the biggest electricity consumers in a typical home?

  1. Sacramento MUD did a study (published 1/2016) and found that heat pump water heaters used about 966kWh per annum, compared to electric ones at 2004kWh. Of course it gets bloody hot up there in the summer, and not that cold in the winter, so the cold water temperature may not be that cold.

  2. I agree fully; being able to measure energy consumption does turn you into an energy geek!

    15 years ago I spent $30 on a Kill-a-watt meter that astoundingly more than paid for it the first month and identified some real wasteful things (Cable box, Stereo system, TV, dehumidifier, refrigerator). I simply stopped using some things and gradually replaced others. I have a 16×32 in ground pool the gets light use. Found the water looked great when running the filter only 1.75 hours/day = about 50 KWH/Mo. New appliances spend some time on the kill-a-watt; thirsty ones get returned! New TVs are amazing; my 55” 4K Samsung costs me about 1 cent per hour.

    Actually my present electric bill is higher because I have switched from oil heat to a Mini-Split heat pump. 1st year went from using 380 gallons+ of oil to using 34 gallons and 2200 KWH electricity. I don’t heat the whole house, but wasn’t doing that with oil either. I did the install; after $900 utility rebate and $500 tax credit it paid for itself first year and cut heating cost in half!

    Hot water was coming from the oil burner which I refused to leave running all the time. Big improvement: installed a $200 electric on-demand hot water heater. A fast shower uses about .65kwh or about 10 cents @ my high $0.169/kwh cost (New Hampshire). A gas or propane on-demand heater would make sense for higher usage.

    As previously stated, the best tool to enable savings has been ability to instantly measure and see energy consumption. I found very simple ways to do this. I attached an accessory to my electric meter that gives me an instant reading of my cost for the month as well as instant usage cost per hour. Also installed a separate electric meter for my heat pump circuit (used utility meters cost about $25 on eBay) and made it so I could see instant usage cost per hour and see all these anytime from my phone. Oil burner was simple: just attach a minute meter to the burner motor. (Calculated I use 0.622 gal/hour) Accuracy has been consistently over 98%, but I haven’t bought oil in over 2 years!

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