What uses the most electricity in your home?

Saving money is not limited to scaling back on your purchases. A lot of the money that we spend goes on things that we don’t necessarily “see”. Take your energy usage, for example. We use electricity every day, but often neglect the many ways that we can actually save money through our energy consumption habits. In order to know how best to slash your energy bill, it’s helpful first to know what uses the most electricity in your home. This way, you can scale back with efficiency and actually see the tangible results in your next bill cycle. Here are the biggest energy-guzzlers in an average home in the United States.*

*Keep in mind that energy use may vary based on a number of different factors, including the region and climate you live in, the size of your home, the number of people living in your household, and the number/type/usage of your appliances.

Heating and cooling

This takes up a big chunk — almost 50% — of your electricity use, especially if you live in an area with more extreme heat or cold weather conditions. The average American household’s heating and cooling system will turn on about 2 – 3 times per hour and will stay on for 10-15 minutes each time. This comes up to approximately 850-1950 kilowatt hours (kWh) over a month. In order to minimize using your HVAC, try the following:

  • Adjust your thermostat in the summer to a couple of degrees higher, and in the winter a couple of degrees lower, rather than keeping a consistent temperature throughout the year. You’d be surprised how quickly we are able to adapt and how much money can be saved with minor adjustments like this.
  • Use curtains to provide shade and preserve cool air within your home in the summer; open up your curtains to absorb heat from the sun in the winter.
  • Dress for the weather! Layer up or down accordingly. 
  • Replace your furnace filters for greater energy efficiency.

Water heater

Water heaters comprise the next largest chunk of electricity within a home. At about 15% of your entire household energy use, water heaters typically use about 400 kWh each month. Here are some ways to dial up your water heater’s efficiency:

  • Install water-conserving faucets and shower heads throughout the home.
  • Set the temperature to 120 degrees Fahrenheit or less.
  • Turn down your water heater when you’re away from home for extended periods of time.
  • Drape your water heater with an insulation jacket (this is particularly useful for older water heaters), and insulate hot water pipes to prevent heat loss.
  •  Consider going solar!


Electric appliances use almost as much energy as your water heater, with refrigerators leading the list of energy use for appliances, at about 160 kWh every month. Fun fact: 30% of homes in the United States actually use TWO refrigerators (or more!) Since these appliances run all day, it can be a bit tricky to cut expenses here, but below are some ways to ensure your fridge is running optimally:

  • Replace an old fridge with a newer, more energy efficient one.
  • Clean dirt, dust, and grime under and behind your fridge for smoother airflow to allow for greater energy efficiency.
  • Set your fridge temperature to the one recommended in your manual for optimal use.
  • Avoid cluttering your fridge.

Other appliances that contribute to your energy consumption include washers and dryers (approximately 90 kilowatt hours per month), dishwashers (10 kWh per month), and electric ovens (75 kWh per month) and stoves (45 kWh per month). To save energy with these appliances, try to wash dishes and clothes only when you have a full load and at off-peak hours, such as in the evening. Use smaller appliances like toaster ovens or electric griddles instead of your full-sized oven and stove whenever possible. Pre-heating is often not necessary!


Gone are the times when productive days ended with the sunlight. Since we’re now able to “burn the midnight oil” through electricity instead of by candle light, we owe 9% of our energy usage to lighting. Over a month, we use about 300 kWh through lightbulbs alone. Some common-sense tricks that you can heed to save on your light usage include:

  • Benefit from natural light!
  • Turn off the lights every time you leave a room.
  • Switch to LED-light bulbs, which are much more energy efficient than incandescent light bulbs.
  • Avoid turning on lights outside of the home, or install motion-detecting lights.

Electronics and TV

The average American household watches about 5 hours of TV per day and plays 6 hours of video games per week. Electronic devices including video game consoles and television sets use up about 55 kWh per month, constituting 4% of our electricity use. Some ways to cut down on electronic energy use are:

  • Cut down the number of hours you spend watching TV, and add another form of entertainment to your slew of activities, like reading.
  • Turn off electronics when not in use, instead of letting them sit idle on screensaver. Unplug electronics.
  • Adjust your screen brightness settings on devices to “energy saving mode”.
  • Set time limits or use electronics only in certain times of the day.


With some upgrading and conscious choices, you may be pleasantly surprised to see huge savings on your next energy bill!