No one likes when the electricity bill goes around – well no one we know anyway. Often the bill is higher than you were expecting. Unfortunately there are a lot of factors at play that determine your electricity bill for the quarter, so it can be hard to pinpoint the main culprit that’s driving up your energy usage.
One thing you can look at immediately is the energy efficiency of the appliances you use regularly, and whether they are the main culprits or not. While you may know some of the main energy suckers, you might not know just how much energy they use. The results can be surprising! Just by having the knowledge you’ll have the power to make decisions that can save money on your electricity bill.
From the kitchen to the laundry to the lounge room, it can pay to be more informed about the electricity your appliances use. Matching the appropriate appliance to individual usage requirements is an important part of the purchase process, with the potential to deliver savings in the long term, so you should consider your own specific needs when deciding on an appliance purchase. In the context of rising electricity prices, and with appliances having the potential to be a significant contributor to household electricity consumption, it certainly pays to make the right decision.
What are the most energy-draining appliances?
Any appliance can be wasting electricity if you’re not careful, but some more so than others. Famous ‘most wanted’ electricity-wasting bandits are the fridge and oven, washing machines and dryers, the air conditioner, and your home entertainment set-up. Under the ‘average use’ metric, this is the average breakdown of appliance use in Australia:
- Televisions and computer monitors = 10 hours use plus 14 hours on standby per day
- Fridges and freezers = in use 24 hours per day
- Clothes dryers = one full load per week
- Dishwashers = seven uses per week at the “normal” setting
- Washing machines = seven uses per week using a warm wash
The Energy Rating website is a good place to start when seeking to determine the electricity consumption and subsequent running costs of a major appliance in your home, or a prospective new one. Of course, when assessing how much energy appliances use, you should take into consideration any individual usage requirements that may put them outside of the range of the “average user”.
The most important tool to have is to know how to read the electricity ratings on each of your appliances to determine how energy-efficient they are. Of course, there are some typical culprits you can immediately look to around your home. Let’s breakdown their energy use using the rate of 33c per kWh – your rate per kWh may be different; in any case, it’s best to look at your last bill.
Energy-drainers in the kitchen
Of the appliances making up the average Aussie kitchen, the refrigerator/freezer and the oven stand out as the most used and most energy demanding. So when it comes time to making your next purchase, it’s certainly worth paying more up front for these appliances if it means greater energy efficiency, especially given their comparatively long lifespan.
The fridge, as mentioned above has to be operating 24 hours a day, which immediately lends itself to high energy use. Take for example the Samsung 458L bottom-mount fridge (SRL457MW) – one of the more popular fridges from Appliances Online. It has a four-star energy rating, so it places pretty highly among fridges in regards to energy consumption, though its capacity is on the smaller side. Rated at 330kWh, it can cost anywhere around $108.90 per year to run.
When it comes to ovens, you generally have the choice between using electricity or gas, and will need to determine – based on your individual circumstance – which option provides the better value and which will provide cost savings. Let’s have a look at the Westinghouse electric wall oven and cooktop combo (WVE645S) from Appliances Online – one of the more popular ovens out there. With a power figure of 8.7kW, used for an hour a day this oven could cost over $1,000 a year to run! Of course, not all people use their oven every day for an hour at a time, and this Westinghouse model is a powerful example.
In the kitchen, choosing the appliance that is right for your requirements can help save energy – for instance, purchasing a fridge that is too big will see the generation of extra electricity to power unused space. It should also be noted that keeping fridges in cool spots can also help save electricity. As for the oven you choose – either gas or electric – using pots with lids when heating up liquids or food, and making sure the oven door is kept closed as much possible, will ensure greater energy efficiency and allow you to potentially save money.
- Biggest energy drainers in the kitchen: Refrigerator/freezer and oven
- Total potential, approximate costs per year: $1,156.80
Energy-drainers in the laundry room
Of the appliances making up the average Australian laundry room, washing machines and clothes dryers are clearly the most energy draining.
This can vary wildly, mainly based on if you have a top loader or front loader model. Let’s take a look at one of the more popular front-loader washing machines on Appliances Online – the Samsung 7.5kg (WW75J4213IW). It’s pretty efficient for both energy and water use, rated at four and 4.5-stars respectively. Its total energy consumption is 262kWh, which would cost an estimated $86.46 a year to run.
As with refrigerators, choosing the right size washing machine for your needs is an important initial step in achieving energy savings. Using a cold wash option is preferable, while loading the machine fully each time will save on the extra cost of putting another load on.
When it comes drying clothes, drying on a rack or the line is the preferred option as dryers are one of the more notorious energy-drainers. Clothes dryers should not be over-filled as this will slow down the drying process and lead to greater energy usage. If you’re on a peak/off-peak electricity plan, the opportunity exists to cut down costs by scheduling washing and drying during off-peak hours.
The Fisher and Paykel 8kg Condenser Dryer (DE8060P2) is one of the more popular models on Appliances Online. It’s rated at 356kWh, which would cost an estimated $117.48 to run per year. Of course, energy use can vary wildly depending on what type of dryer you have; not all are equal!
- Biggest energy drainers in the laundry: Washing machine and clothes dryer
- Total potential, approximate costs per year: $203.94
Energy-drainers in the lounge room
The lounge room in a typical Australian home consists of a variety of appliances ranging from the various home entertainment gadgets you’ll find, along with an air conditioner.
While individually devices that fall under ‘home entertainment’ may be fairly innocuous when it comes to your energy bill, together they work as a team to drive up energy use. Adding to that, these devices are also typically left on at least standby 24 hours a day, and see significant usage in peak times.
For a reference point for some of the smaller appliances you might typically find in a lounge room, the SA Government has listed some of the typical cost of powering them.
|Appliance||Typical Watts Usage||Hourly Running Cost|
|Printer (basic – multi-function)||25-1200||$0.008-$0.40|
|Cordless phone||less than 5||$0.002|
|Mobile phone charger||less than 5||$0.002|
|Digital set-top box||5.4-20||$0.002-$0.007|
Of course, these figures are just a guide. Undoubtedly, the biggest energy-drainer in home entertainment is the television. This also varies depending on if you have plasma or an LED/LCD television, but no matter what, it can pay to monitor the humble TV’s energy consumption. Take for example the Samsung 50-inch Smart Ultra-HD LED-LCD TV (UA50KU6000). It has a four-star energy rating, so it’s fairly energy efficient, but it still uses 341kWh a year, typically. This would equate to around $112.53 a year on your electricity bill.
Televisions are one of the biggest energy consumers, so when making a purchase, you should opt for the more energy efficient option amongst your preferred display technology. Apart from that you can also save energy by turning appliances off at the power outlet when they are not in use. They can still consume energy when in standby mode, potentially making up a significant percentage of household energy use.
Air conditioners are again one of the more notorious appliances for their energy-draining qualities. You might have one in your bedroom, but they’re also commonly found in the lounge room to prevent you sweating through the latest horror movie. One of the more popular types of air conditioner is the split-system air conditioner, which is generally more energy-efficient than other types of air conditioning, but they can still be a big energy-drainer.
The Fujitsu 2.5kW Reverse-Cycle Split-System Inverter air conditioner is one of the more popular models on Appliances Online. Its reasonably small power figure means it’s suited to smaller rooms and is generally lighter on the energy consumption than other models, but the costs can still add up. Say you use this model for the hottest three months of the year, for three hours a day. With this use you can expect the Fujitsu to cost around $222.75 for the year.
- Biggest energy drainers in the living room: Television and air conditioner
- Total potential, approximate costs per year: $335.28
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How can I save money on my energy bill?
Figuring out how your electricity bill got so high can be a bit of a headache at the best of times. Besides going to the trouble of installing energy monitoring and saving gadgets, you can:
- look to some of the typical energy-drainers in your home
- Find out their energy usage per year, or quarter
- Approximate your own use of these appliances and gadgets
- Find out how much your provider charges per kWh of electricity
- Calculate approximate costs of running these energy-drainers in your home
Once you’ve undertaken these steps, you can then employ various energy-saving methods, such as turning appliances and gadgets off at the wall, and being more mindful about your usage in general. Deciphering why your energy bill is so high can be a headache, but it doesn’t have to be. By simply looking out for these typically notorious energy-drainers in your home you can be on the path to a more manageable electricity bill next quarter. You can also consider the more energy-efficient appliances out there.