The most costly appliances to run in your home

Lowering energy bills is a huge task for any family, no matter your income. So looking at which appliances consume the most power is a good starting point when reevaluating your outgoings. Household appliances and tech equipment account for around a third of total energy usage in the home.

A typical Australian family home is likely to have quite an array of electrical appliances, including a couple of TVs, fridge freezer, cooker, washing machine, clothes dryer, dishwasher, microwave oven, kettle, desktop computer, phones, tablets and games console. You can probably think of even more!

So let’s take a look at the major appliances in most homes and find out what percentage of energy usage they account for. Keep in mind however, that energy consumption will vary across different appliance models, sizes and energy star ratings. The costs associated with the running of these appliances will also depend on your electricity tariff and the rate you’re charged.


For many families, the trusty dishwasher is one of the more essential appliances in the home, and it’s generally perceived to be one of the biggest energy-suckers. However, it actually accounts for an average of just 2% of appliance energy usage. So you can leave your dishwasher to do the hard work in the evening with a clear conscious.

Annual running costs when running dishwasher four times per week

Energy Star rating Electricity usage  Annual cost
1 328 kWh $89.94
2 230 kWh $62.96
3 161 kWh $44.07
4 113 kWh $30.85
5 79 kWh $21.59
6 55 kWh $15.12
7 39 kWh $10.58
8 27 kWh $7.41
9 19 kWh $5.18
10 13 kWh $3.63

Data sourced from Annual cost figures based on a 27.4c/kWh usage rate.

Fridge freezer

The fridge freezer is a monster energy sucker, and it’s hardly a surprise seeing as you never turn it off! A massive 18% of energy consumed by household appliances is used up by the humble fridge freezer. This is why you should always give serious thought to the size of fridge you need before buying, because the bigger they come, the more they will cost you in electricity bills.

Annual running costs of running single door fridge-freezer

Energy Star rating Electricity usage  Annual cost
1 443 kWh $121.46
2 341 kWh $93.52
3 263 kWh $72.01
4 202 kWh $55.45
5 156 kWh $42.70
6 120 kWh $32.88
7 92 kWh $25.31
8 71 kWh $19.49
9 55 kWh $15.01
10 42 kWh $11.56

Data sourced from Annual cost figures based on a 27.4c/kWh usage rate. Example fridge model has 300 litre capacity with additional 100L freezer compartment.


We live in an age when size really does matter, and unfortunately this translates to our electricity bills, too. If you want the luxury of a large screen plasma TV, then you’ll end up paying for it. Your TV is likely to be the biggest consumer of energy of all the appliances in your house, taking up 19 per cent on average, so select one carefully. And something you might not realise is how quickly the cost of leaving your TV on standby can add up – around $26 every year. So it really pays to turn your TV completely off when you’re not using it.

Annual running costs of 50 inch TV.

Energy Star rating Electricity usage  Annual cost
1 328 kWh $89.95
2 263 kWh $71.96
3 210 kWh $57.57
4 168 kWh $46.05
5 134 kWh $36.84
6 108 kWh $29.47
7 86 kWh $23.58
8 69 kWh $18.86
9 55 kWh $15.09
10 44 kWh $12.07

Data sourced from Annual cost figures based on a 27.4c/kWh usage rates. Calculations assume TV operates 4 hours a day on weekdays and 6 hours a day on weekends.

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Washing machine

A washing machine can be expensive to run depending on what type you buy. Top loader washing machines are well-known to be a higher cost to run than a front loader, sometimes costing twice as much, as they usually use more water and run for longer. A washing machine uses a total of 2% of all the energy used by your appliances.

Annual running costs of five washing loads per week

Energy Star rating Electricity usage  Annual cost
1 622 kWh $170.51
2 454 kWh $124.47
3 332 kWh $90.87
4 242 kWh $66.33
5 177 kWh $48.42
6 129 kWh $35.35
7 94 kWh $25.80
8 69 kWh $18.84
9 50 kWh $13.75
10 37 kWh $10.04

Data sourced from Annual cost figures based on a 27.4c/kWh usage rate. Example is 7KG capacity washing machine.

Clothes dryer

A clothes dryer is less of a necessity for many families than your washing machine, but they are a godsend to bigger households. You might think they’ll cost you a lot in energy use, but on average a clothes dryer will only account for about 2% of appliance energy usage.

Annual running costs of three dryer loads per week

Energy Star rating Electricity usage  Annual cost
1 795 kWh $217.83
2 676 kWh $185.16
3 574 kWh $157.38
4 488 kWh $133.77
5 415 kWh $113.71
6 353 kWh $96.65
7 300 kWh $82.15
8 255 kWh $69.83
9 217 kWh $59.36
10 184 kWh $50.45

Data sourced from Annual cost figures based on a 27.4c/kWh usage rate. Example is 5kg capacity clothes dryer.

Hot water

The cost of your hot water varies a lot depending on whether it’s an electric or gas system, and can account for up to 20% of your total household energy use. There are a massive range of factors that come into play when considering how much electricity a water heater consumes, including size, number of showers, shower temperature, number of warm washing loads, age of the system, tariff structure and energy rating. Because of this, it is difficult to provide a reliable indication of annual costs. If the cost of hot water is a big problem for your household, consider investing in a solar boosted hot water system.

Heating and cooling your home

The cost of heating and cooling your home is usually the most expensive part of your energy bill, often accounting for up 40% of the total cost. This is even more than your total appliances combined, so being mindful of your heating and cooling usage should be top of the list for anyone looking to reduce their bills.

Air conditioners are again difficult to pinpoint the exact running costs of as it not only depends on the model type and star rating, but the size of the room it’s operating in and how long the cooler or heater is left running. We break down the expected running costs of air conditioners more closely here.

Digital devices

We live in a world where being connected to the internet is an essential part of life, and the number of digital devices in our home reflects that. According to data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the average household includes six devices used to access the internet. However, the good news is that they are relatively cheap to run, costing between five and 15 cents an hour.

What’s the verdict?

As electrical appliances become more affordable, our demand for electrical items increase and energy rates rise there is an inevitably going to be higher bills coming through the mail. Choosing an appliance which is energy efficient will pay you back in the long run as you will save on the bills. Be savvy – check the energy rating on the next appliance you buy and be careful to choose the size of your appliance for your needs, especially for the big energy burners like the fridge freezer and TV, as this can help avoid a massive bill.

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