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Appliances responsible for 13% of home energy bill in U.S.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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Energy use for appliances is responsible for about 13% of the monthly energy bills for the average American home. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, at the top of the appliance-energy-use list are water heaters, refrigerators, and clothes dryers (and pool pumps for those homes with swimming facilities). According to their estimates, one’s desktop computer uses about twice the amount of energy as their clothes washer.

These data provide tools for identifying best practices that Americans can use to reduce their home energy use. For example, the DOE has developed a set of recommendations for reducing energy consumption for cleaning and drying clothes. Perhaps surprisingly given the amount of energy consumed by clothes dryers in the United States, recommendations to line-dry one’s clothes is at the bottom of this list.

Photo Credit: Graph courtest of the U.S. Department of Energy

Melissa C. Lott About the Author: An engineer and researcher who works at the intersection of energy, environment, technology, and policy. Follow on Twitter @mclott.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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  1. 1. Jerzy v. 3.0. 3:18 am 02/20/2014

    So, are this per hour of operating or total cost?

    Link to this
  2. 2. Melissa Lott 5:03 am 02/20/2014

    Hi @Jerzy v. 3.0. – Thank you for your question. The graph above shows both total electricity used to operate the appliance each year (across the bottom) and the corresponding cost ($) of this electricity each year (across the top axis).

    Note that the costs were calculated using the average cost of electricity in the United States. If you wanted to translate it to the cost where you live and you do not have an electricity bill around, you might take a look at one of these websites:

    1. http://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/epm_table_grapher.cfm?t=epmt_5_6_a

    2. http://www.eia.gov/state/

    Thanks again for your question.

    Link to this

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