Myths About Appliances

Researching Appliance Energy Claims

Major-Appliances

Do Appliances Use Significant Power when they're not running?

I like to do some research when I post blogs that make claims or contain data. Unfortunately, many online blogs and posts seem to mislead us rather than enlighten us. Recently, I came across a blog from an appliance “expert” (an appliance parts house), referring to myths about appliances. Here is the author's claim regarding one of the appliance myths he purports to expose:

MYTH

Appliances don't use power while in stand-by mode: FALSE. Almost all home appliances and electronics continue to consume power when in “stand-by”. Check out these stand-by power consumption rates:

  1. Microwave oven: up to 6 watts per hour
  2. Ranges: up to 4.1 watts per hour
  3. *Telephone: up to 5 watts per hour

In some cases, appliances in stand-by mode can consume as much as 15-30 watts per hour – that's a lot of power usage day after day, week after week.

Not so Fast

OK, let's assume that leaving all our appliances in “stand-by mode”, whatever that means, will consume as much as 15-30 watts per hour, BUT to say that “that's a lot of power usage…” doesn't ring true to me.

Let's do the math:

30 watts per hour = .03KWH (kilowatt hours)

Let's see how much it costs to keep our appliances in “standby mode” for a month.

.03KWH X 24 hours = .72 KWH per day X 30 days = 21.6 KWH per month. X $.12** per KWH = $2.59 per month.

Now, this estimate is at the very high end. Using the author's own data, this could be 15 watts rather than 30, making the cost per month under $1.30. I'm not happy that my “standby” appliances cost as much as a couple bucks a month to keep running, but I can live with it.

Conclusion

HE-Topload-Washer

Let's put all this in perspective. Your major appliances are going to cost you far more in energy costs (electric and/or gas) than $1.30 per month. If you really want to cut down on appliance energy costs, unplugging your microwave when it's not in use is quite trivial. It's also a pain to reset the clock each time you plug it back in. However, replacing an old agitator-type washing machine with a new high-efficiency washer will get you significant savings. Maybe as much as $130 a year according to Lifehacker.

* When did a telephone become an appliance?

** $.12 per KWH = national average cost of electricity. Electricity costs vary greatly across the country.


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