Energy Sappers: Your Appliances Take a Lot of Juice — Calculate How Much and Save

Posted On: July 07, 2013

Unless you use solar or other renewable energy sources for everyday living, your home is filled with energy sappers that drive up your electric bills. Utility providers measure the amount of electricity you use in watts and kilowatts (kW). One thousand watts is equal to a kW. Kilowatt rates vary depending on your rate plan and your location.

Large appliances such as air conditioners and heat pumps top the list for electrical usage. Instead of noting their power usage in kWs, appliance manufacturers use the measurement unit, amps. To find the watts an appliance uses, multiply the amps times the volts it uses. Most central cooling systems use 220 volts, so suppose yours is a 20-amp system. Its total hourly kW usage, as a result, would be 4.4 (or 4,400 watts).

Anything you can do to reduce the time appliances run will result in lower electric bills. As a general rule, the list below describes the appliances in your home that are energy sappers, in order of consumption. The tips following each will help you lower consumption.

  • HVAC equipment. Keep the air filter clean and have the system professionally serviced by a licensed HVAC contractor annually.
  • Water heater. Turn the temperature down to 120 degrees F, insulate the tank and flush a quart out once every three months.
  • Range and oven. Use slow cookers in the summer or bake when it’s cooler outside.
  • Clothes dryer. Don’t overdry your clothing.
  • Refrigerator/Freezer. Keeping them full cuts makes it easier for them to cool items.
  • Desktop computers. Put the computer and monitor to sleep when they’re idle.
  • Television. Turn it off when you leave a room.
  • Dishwasher and clothes washer. Wash only full loads.
  • Ceiling fans. Turn them off when nobody’s in the room to feel their wind-chill effect.

When you need to replace any of these appliances, look for the Energy Star label to guide your decision. This designation means that the appliance uses energy exceptionally efficiently. All of the appliances noted, except a range and oven, may qualify for the EPA’s Energy Star program.

If you’d like to learn more about managing energy sappers, especially your HVAC equipment, please contact us at Ernst Heating & Cooling. We’ve provided exceptional services for southwestern Illinois, including Maryville, Collinsville and Hamel, since 1951.


Our goal is to help educate our customers in Hamel, Alton, Glen Carbon, Highland, Greenville, and Troy, Illinois and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  For more information about energy sappers and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide. 

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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