Power consumption and cost
If you ever check your utility bills then you’ll probably know that electricity consumption is measured in kilowatt hours or kWh. 1kWh is the amount of energy a 1 kilowatt heater uses in one hour, and the average cost of electricity is around 14p per kWh. Of course, every electrical appliance in your home has its own consumption rating. Some appliances, like your kettle, have a relatively high power consumption, but are only on for a few minutes each day. While a fridge has a relatively low power consumption, but is on 24/7/365. So which appliances use the most energy? And what steps can you take to keep costs under control?
Washing machines and tumble dryers
If you wash and tumble dry just two loads each week, you’ll typically be racking up electricity costs of around £100 a year. And if you have piles of dirty work clothes or sports kits to wash, and your machine is on 6 days out of 7, that can rise to around £300 a year. But what choice do you have?
Well most of your washing machine’s energy consumption is used to heat water, so wash as cool as you can – reducing the wash temperature from 40°C to 30°C will cut energy costs by over 40%. And when the weather is fine, hang clothes outside to dry, even if you need to finish them off in the dryer.
The hourly power consumption of a fridge freezer is far less than a washing machine and dryer. But because your fridge freezer is working around the clock, the costs mount up. A regular fridge freezer typically uses around 260kWh per year, which equates to an annual electricity cost of around £36.00. While a supersized American-style appliance might use 360kWh and cost around £50 a year to run. Yet however large or small your fridge freezer might be, there are steps you can take to limit your energy use. Make sure your fridge freezer is out of direct sunlight and well away from heat-generating appliances like an oven or tumble dryer. Don’t hold the door open any longer than you have to, and always keep the inside clear of frost, because even a small build-up of ice can seriously impact efficiency.
The power consumption of a dishwasher is typically around 1.5kWh for a one hour cycle, so that’ll cost you around 21p (1.5kWh at 14p per kWh). That’s not a big expense to save on the hassle of washing up, and some reports suggest it’s actually cheaper than old-school washing up using a bowl of hot soapy water and a splash of elbow grease. But you should still make sure you use your dishwasher efficiently. So try to avoid using half load cycles – these generally use more than half the energy and half the water of a full load cycle, so they’re quite inefficient. Always use the ‘eco mode’ if your dishwasher has one, and next time you’re replacing your dishwasher, choose the most energy efficient model.