Major appliances use up to 33 per cent of the electricity and 13 per cent of the total energy in an average American household. Older appliances are often much less efficient than newer, Energy Star--labelled models --- often to the extent that a new appliance can pay for itself in energy savings in only a few years. Additionally, there are ways to reduce the energy use of your existing appliances by changing the way you use them.
Refrigerator and Freezer
Refrigerators consume the most energy of any major household appliance, averaging approximately 1,462 kWh --- kilowatt hours --- per household. Only about 34 per cent of households have a separate standalone freezer, but those that do use an average of 1,150 kWh to run it. Save energy by setting your refrigerator to 3.33 degrees Celsius, cleaning the condenser coils as recommended by the manufacturer, allowing air to circulate around and behind the refrigerator and replacing the door seals if they are worn.
Washer and Dryer
Clothes washers average about 120 kWh per year, which is only 0.9 per cent of household electricity use. Additional energy is necessary to heat water for washing clothes with the hot or warm cycles, so save energy by washing with the cold cycle whenever possible. Clothes dryers use 5.8 per cent of household electricity, or 1,079 kWh per year. Don't over-dry clothing; if your dryer has a sensor that turns off the unit when the clothing reaches a certain moisture level, use it.
Microwave, Range and Oven
A range top uses 536 kWh annually, or about 2.8 per cent of household energy consumption. The oven uses 1.8 per cent of the home's energy, or 440 kWh per year. A microwave oven uses 209 kWh, and is the most efficient choice for heating small portions of food. Toaster ovens are also a more efficient option for cooking, using only 50 kWh per year, or 0.2 per cent of energy consumption. When cooking on the range top, use the appropriate-size burner for your pan to avoid wasting energy.
Approximately 57 per cent of American households have a dishwasher. Dishwashers use an average of 512 kWh per year, which is 2.5 per cent of total usage. To save energy while using your dishwasher, only run it with full loads --- it takes as much power and water to clean just a few dishes as it does to clean a complete load. Dry your dishes by hand, or use the no-heat drying option, if available. Scrape dishes instead of prerinsing to save water.