March 9, 2017

10 Household Products That Use More Energy Than You Think

When you think of energy guzzlers what’s the first appliance that comes to mind? You’re probably thinking clothes dryers and fridges, which are certainly major culprits. However there are worse offenders out there that you might not suspect. 

The below table shows a breakdown of the estimated energy consumption of a typical Australian household:

% Of Annual Electricity Used

Appliances

26%

TV/PC/small appliances

25%

Washing & Drying

17%

Fridge Freezers

12%

Cooking

10%

Lighting

10%

Standby

The usual suspects in your washers, dryers, and fridges are right up in the mix however the top category of TV/PC/Small Appliances may surprise you.  Here are some of the main offenders and what you can do to ensure they don’t highjack your energy bill.

  • Plasma TV’s

Plasma TV’s are hot ticket items, literally. They consume a lot of energy and give off a lot of heat in the process.  If your buy a TV and want to be energy conscious opt for their counterparts of the LED or LCD variety.

If however your heart desires a Plasma TV, then use it wisely. Most TV’s come with an economy function to save energy, so dig out your instruction manual and change your TV to the Eco mode.  Ensure you switch your TV off at the wall when it’s not in use so it’s not burning through the electricity while no one is watching.

Here is an example from the Save Energy Save Money website – you can see below that the 50 inch Plasma TV will cost you $20 (or 25%!) more a year to run than the 50 inch LED and it’s doing the same job.  The bigger the TV the bigger the savings, and the more important to research running costs.

plasmatv

  • Set Top Boxes/ PVR’s

Television has moved in to the digital age, and many of us have a digital set top box or a PVR (Personal Video Recorder).  These devices have a clock that operates 24/7, PVR’s have hard drives to save your favourite TV shows that are recorded while you’re out. Foxtel and Austar boxes work in the same way.  As these machines are left on all the time, they are the silent and unsuspecting energy guzzlers.  The best way to combat unnecessary energy consumption here is to ensure you’re not getting stung by standby and turn it off at the wall! So you don’t have to battle the cords and spiders behind the TV, make life easier by using a stand by controller.

You can be forgiven for not thinking about energy consumption when purchasing Set Top Boxes and PVR’s as they are small appliances that fly under the radar. So to give you some perspective and expose these silent killers for what they are – did you know that having 2 set top boxes in your house left on 24/7 can consume the same amount of energy as a Fridge?

  • Battery Chargers

Every home, in fact most rooms have battery chargers of some sort in them these days. They come in all shapes and sizes from your electric toothbrush and laptop to your mobile phone and tablet. However all have one thing in common: they are a direct line to jacking up your energy bill.  If you have an older device, you will have an older charger which over the years becomes increasingly inefficient, costing you on wasted electricity. Not many people can afford to buy a new phone or laptop every 6 months; so if possible purchase a new charger separately.

Be smart with your energy consumption, don’t leave your laptop plugged in all the time, only plug it in when it needs to be charged. If you charge your devices overnight, plug them all into the one power board that has a time switch attached; This will automatically turn off once they are charged.

  • Kettles

The way you use your kettle will determine how much it can cost you a year to run. The average Kettle is between 2 and 3 Kilowatts and is boiled 3 times a day. A 2 Kilowatt Kettle filled up to the maximum will take roughly ten minutes to boil. At $0.27 per kilowatt-hour, this kettle will cost you $98.55 a year to run.

By simply half filling your kettle, you can reduce your boiling time down to 5 minutes cutting your annual running cost to $49.27.

The less you fill it, the more you save. If you’re boiling the kettle to have a cuppa and a bit of alone time with that engrossing book, just put one mug’s worth of water in the kettle.

  • Coffee Machines

Coffee Machines are usually between 0.9 and 2 Kilowatts. Even though that morning coffee can give you the energy you need to start you day, the funny thing is that the coffee machine will guzzle energy at the same time! Most households turn the coffee machine on for the first morning coffee and the last person to leave the house will flick the coffee machine off.  Sometimes there can be a gap of 2 hours between the first and last cup of coffee, all this time heating and re heating the water is a big waste of energy. This is constantly burning through your electricity for 2 or 3 cups of coffee.

Try all having breakfast together with your morning coffee, or turning the coffee machine off between cups to avoid warming the water for long periods of time.

  • Microwave Ovens

Surprisingly microwaves consume most of their power when not in use. Microwaves left on standby for their digital clock and electronic key pad lights continue to use your power when you’re not even at home.

Get into the habit of switching your microwave off at the wall, this will save you energy and money.

  • Game Consoles

Game consoles have come a long way since the Commodore 64 (am I showing my age here?).  Now you can play music, watch DVD’s and even stream movies, which Sony and Microsoft actively encourage their customers to do.  You use a lot more energy by watching a DVD on your Xbox than you would in your DVD player.  The reason for this is the powerful game processors continue to operate unnecessarily while you watch your movie.  Currently the game console can’t identify between the different functions and thus operates at maximum output all of the time.

The other issue with game consoles is that they are designed to go into sleep mode and only use 1 watt or less of power in this mode; however the user has to remember to turn the console onto standby for this to be operational.  A solution to this problem, especially if you have forgetful teenagers in your home, is to go into the game consoles settings and turn on the auto standby which kicks in after a period of inactivity.  You can even set the time period you want this to start after.

  • Digital Photo Frames

With the technology developing on these and the price becoming more and more affordable, digital photo frames are becoming increasingly popular in homes across Australia. Some homes even have up to four running at the same time in one household.  You may not look at digital photo frames as energy guzzlers, however when you start putting more than 2 or 3 in the one house it can add up to be quite an unwanted contributor to your energy bill.

It can be a pain to turn off every wall switch when you leave the house or go to bed for the night. So why not invest in some power boards with timer switches so you can set the time that you want them to click off. It will be a small upfront cost that you will make back on your power bills in no time. What’s the point of having all of your favourite photos showing for no one to see?

  • Pool Pumps

Pool pumps can cost an estimated $640 a year to run.  They can account for as much as 70% of your pool’s total energy usage. Pool pumps don’t normally get named and shamed for energy consumption, so to give you an idea let’s compare the running costs of a large 639 litre fridge. The pool pump costs 243% more a year than the fridge!

fridge

The pool pump is key to the health of your pool so you don’t want to compromise. Look for energy efficient pool pumps. Single speed pool pumps always operate at maximum efficiency, constantly burning through your electricity. Multi speed pumps operate at different speeds depending on whether you need cleaning or filtration, making these more energy efficient.

  • Water Filters

Water filters are great and come in a variety of functions. However before you plug it in to chill your water, think about whether it’s necessary. You can pour the water into a jug and chill in the fridge.  This will be a double energy saver as you’ll save energy from chilling the water and you’ll reduce your energy consumption in your fridge – the more items in your fridge, the less energy needs to keep the contents cool.

I hope you find these tips help you save energy and money.

Julie Moore is Co-founder & Director of Save Energy Save Money, Australia’s first energy and price comparison website. With over 10 years’ experience in the corporate world Julie ensures Save Energy Save Money provides you with the energy information you need to make informed decisions. Helping to contribute to a more sustainable Australia. You can read more of her work at the Save Energy Save Money blog

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Comments

  1. If your kettle takes 10mins to boil when full it might be time for a new kettle…