How much electricity does your home really use?

Saving electricity. Everybody's talking about it, but what does the idea really mean? Before you start planning ways to cut down on your consumption of electrical power, it would be helpful to know how much electricity you're currently using in the home, and what you're using it for. Here's a guide.

What Are Watts, Kilowatts, and Kilowatt Hours?

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports that in 2013 the average American home used 10,908 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity per year, or about 909 kWh per month.

What does this mean to the average person? Well, a watt is a measure of power, and 1000 of them equal one kilowatt (often shortened to kW). A kilowatt hour (kWh) is a measure of energy, that is, the number of kilowatts used per hour. To bring in a real life example, one kWh is the amount of electrical energy required to power a 40-watt light bulb for a period of 25 hours. The kWh is the unit by which your local utility company calculates the electricity consumption of their residential customers, meaning the charge on your monthly or bimonthly bill works out to the number of kilowatt hours you used times the company's billing rate per kWh.

How Much Electricity Do Your Appliances Use?

Your household appliances will use widely varying amounts of electricity, depending on their size and model, the temperature or speed setting which you choose, and your local climate. However, learning approximately how much energy each one takes will help you track your home electrical consumption.

ELECTRICAL APPLIANCE

RATING

 Air conditioner, central (2.5 ton)

 3800 watts

 Air conditioner, window unit

 500-1400 watts

 Blow dryer

 1000 watts

 Broadband router

 7-10 watts

 Coffee maker

 900 watts

 Deep fryer

 1200 watts

 Dehumidifier

 300-700 watts

 Desktop computer

 80-150 watts

 Dishwasher

 1050-1500 watts

 Electric blanket

 130-200 watts

 Electric drill

 900-1000 watts

 Electric lawn mower

 500-1500 watts

 Extractor fan

 1-36 watts

 Freezer

 150 watts

 Fridge-freezer

 200-400 watts

 Game console

 45-190 watts

 Grill

 1000-2000 watts

 Iron

 1000-1800 watts

 Kettle

 2200-3000 watts

 Laptop

 20-50 watts

 LCD TV

 125-200 watts

 Microwave

 600-1500 watts

 Oil-filled radiator

 1500-2500 watts

 Oven

 2000-2200 watts

 Oven, self-cleaning mode

 1180 watts

 Plasma TV

 280-450 watts

 Refrigerator

 40-120 watts

 Smart phone (charge)

 2.5-5 watts

 Space heater

 2000-3000 watts

 Stove burner

 800 watts

 Tablet (charge)

 10 watts

 Toaster

 800-1500 watts

 Towel rail

 250 watts

 Tumble dryer

 2000-4000 watts

 Vacuum cleaner

 500-1200 watts

 Video, DVD or CD

 20-60 watts

 Washing machine

 1200-3000 watts

 Water Heater

 3800 watts

Chart adapted from the Centre for Sustainable Energy

For a more precise measurement, you can check 120-volt appliances with an electricity usage monitor. This will track the wattage drawn with normal use and also the "phantom load" when the device is turned off.

How Can You Reduce Your Electricity Usage?

If you're looking to cut down on your electricity usage -- and your electricity bills! -- you'll do well to start with your HVAC consumption. Heating and cooling the home accounts for nearly half of residential electric consumption. So you can save by changing your HVAC filter, insulating your home, installing ceiling fans, buying a programmable thermostat, and setting the temperature at an energy-smart 78 degrees in summer and 68 degrees in winter.

Reduce phantom load electricity consumption by unplugging infrequently-used appliances, substituting energy-saving plugs for your current ones (no pun intended), or turning them off with a power strip.

When you're ready to buy a new air conditioner, furnace, fridge, or other major appliance, look for Energy Star certification. And if you're on the fence about whether you can afford to upgrade, consider the energy savings and improved performance a new model will give you.

Use less. A few examples to get you started: Hang your clothes to dry, at least in summer. (I do.) Wear more layers in winter so you can set the heat lower. Plan your oven use so that you bake several items at the same time.

Consider moving to solar power. If you are not ready to make a major commitment, some areas offer the possibility of solar leasing.

Provided by Networx.com
Laura Firszt writes for networx.com.