Where Are Your Energy Dollars Going?

The typical household uses more than 11,300 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity each year. On average, that is an annual cost of $1,340, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. WhereCashHands are all of these energy dollars going?

In most homes, air conditioning uses more energy than any other appliance. Add to this the significant amount of power used by a furnace blower—even in a gas-fired unit—and space conditioning is the first place to look for energy-saving opportunities. Have your furnace and air conditioner cleaned and inspected annually by a qualified professional. Make sure your home is properly insulated and weatherized around doors and windows. Consider installing a whole-house fan; they use far less energy than a central air-conditioning system.

If you use an electric water heater, the best way to reduce costs is to use less hot water. Taking shorter showers and installing low-flow fixtures on faucets and shower heads will help; along with waiting until you have a full load to run your clothes washer and dishwasher. Additional energy-saving tips include the following:

  • Turn off lights when you leave a room and install energy-efficient, compact-fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs).
  • Unplug devices such as stereo equipment or TV set-top boxes that continue to use power when switched off.
  • Install a programmable thermostat to adjust temperatures when you are asleep or not at home. Contact AMU about our 2 Degrees 2 Save program to receive a programmable thermostat at no cost.
  • Air dry laundry whenever possible; it saves energy and extends the life of clothing.
  • Open windows during the summer to take advantage of natural cooling. Use ceiling fans to increase air circulation; making the house feel cooler.
  • Use window treatments to reflect hot summer sun and insulate your home on cold winter nights.


When replacing home appliances and electronic equipment, purchase models that are ENERGY STAR certified for efficiency. ENERGY STAR is a joint program of the U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which encourages the use of energy-saving practices and products.

In the following table, you can see the average monthly energy use for some of the most frequently used appliances and devices in your home. Armed with this information, you will be able to make better decisions when it comes to reducing energy use.

Average Monthly Energy Use of Common Household Devices
Central Air Conditioner* 720 kWh
Electric Water Heater 400 kWh
Dehumidifier 230 kWh
Furnace Blower* 105 kWh
Whole House Fan 96 kWh
Clothes Dryer 80 kWh
Clothes Washer 75 kWh
Refrigerator/Freezer 60 kWh
Lighting 60 kWh
Flat Screen TV 35 kWh
*Heating and cooling estimates apply only during summer and winter months and can vary depending on climate.


You can calculate how much it will cost to operate any type of electric equipment by using the following formula: Watts * hours of use / 1,000 * cost per kilowatt-hour = Cost of Operation

This means that if a 1,500 –watt electric space heater ran 24-hours at a rate of $0.0677 a kilowatt-hour, the cost would be $2.44 a day (1500 * 24 / 1000 * $0.0677). For a month that would add over $73.00 extra to your utility bill.

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