How much electricity do household items use?
Last update, and links checked: June 2013
The calculator at right will give you a rough idea of how much electricity something uses and how much it costs you. But there are some important caveats:
 Electricity rates vary widely. I've
found rates from 12¢ to 50¢ per kWh from the same
provider. If you want results that are anywhere
close to accurate, you'll need to check your own electric
bill and find your actual kWh rate. Your bill might
have multiple kWh rates (e.g., one for "delivery" and one
for "fuel"), and in that case you should to add up them all
up to get the total kWh rate. Most rates are tiered,
meaning the higher your use, the higher the rate. You
should generally enter your highest tier into the
calculator, because any energy you save will save you money
at that highest tiered rate.
 Electrical use varies from model to model. I
thought this would be obvious, but in hundreds of blogs and
forums people say things like, "Mr. Electricity says a
computer uses 150 watts," which is a
mischaracterization. The calculator and table figures
are just examples. (See how
to
misquote this website.)
 Some devices use varying amounts of
electricity. An easy example is an oven, whose
energy use depends on how high you crank it. Perhaps a
less obvious example is a washing machine, which effectively
uses phenomenally more energy if
you wash in hot rather than cold. Then there's the refrigerator,
which alternates between periods of full energy use while
the compressor is running, and then next to nothing when the
compressor shuts off. (To solve this problem for
fridges, the calculator lists the average wattage over time,
not the higher amount used when the compressor runs.)
 Most devices don't run 24/7. Therefore the
"Hours per Day" and "Days per Month" fields in the
calculator are crucial. Even so, you might not have a
good idea about how various appliances run. So below
we'll discuss which items use the most energy in a typical
home. You can also measure a
device's usage yourself, which gives you the best
information for your own situation.
Heating
26,500 watts
Elec. furnace, 2000sf, cold climate
7941 watts
Elec. furnace, 1000sf, warm climate
1440 watts
Electric space heater (high)
900 watts
Electric space heater (medium)
600 watts
Electric space heater (low)
750 watts
Gas furnace (for the blower)
1100 watts
Waterbed heater
450 watts
Waterbed heater (avg. 10 hrs./day)
Cooling
3500 watts
Central Air Conditioner (2.5 tons)
1440 watts
Window unit AC, huge
900 watts
Window unit AC, medium
500 watts
Tinyass window unit AC
325425 watts
Fan only for central AC (no cooling)
More efficient cooling
400 watts
Evaporative cooler
350 watts
Wholehouse fan
100 watts
Floor or box fan (high speed)
90 watts
52" ceiling fan (high speed)
75 watts
48" ceiling fan (high speed)
55 watts
36" ceiling fan (high speed)
24 watts
42" ceiling fan (low speed)
Major appliances
4400 watts
Clothes dryer (electric)
Washing machine
3800 watts
Water heater (electric)
200700 watts
Refrigerator (compressor)
57160 watts
Refrigerator (average)
3600 watts
Dishwasher (washer heats water)
2000 watts
Electric oven, 350°F
1178 watts
Electric oven, selfcleaning mode
(takes 4.5 hrs, 5.3 kWh total)1200 watts
Dishwasher (dry cycle)
200 watts
Dishwasher (no water heating or drying)
Lighting
60 watts
60watt light bulb (incandescent)
18 watts
CFL light bulb (60watt equivalent)
5
Night light
0.5
LED night light
Computers (see more about electrical use of computers)
150340 watts
Desktop Computer & 17" CRT monitor
120 watts
Desktop Computer & Monitor (in sleep mode)
90 watts
17" CRT monitor
40 watts
17" LCD monitor
45 watts
Laptop computer
Televisions & Videogames
191474 watts
5056" Plasma television
210322 watts
5056" LCD television
150206 watts
5056" DLP television
188464 watts
42" Plasma television
91236 watts
42" LCD television
98156 watts
32" LCD television
5590 watts
19" CRT television
45 watts
HD cable box (varies by model)
194 watts
PS3
185 watts
Xbox 360
70 watts
Xbox
30 watts
PS2
18 watts
Nintendo Wii (source)
Other
1440 watts
Microwave oven or 4slot Toaster
900 watts
Coffee maker
800 watts
Range burner
4 watts
Clock radio
3 watthours
Total energy stored by an alkaline AA battery. This is to put batteries into perspective. If you could power your clock radio with a AA battery, it wouldn't even last an hour. We have more on batteries on our Guide to Household Batteries.
Wattage varies from model to model! Figures above are examples. See How to Misquote this Website.
Data for specific models of appliances is available at the Power Consumption Database.

Some devices use a little energy even when they're not
on. This is called standby power, or vampire
power. In most cases it's negligible, the main
exception being cable TV boxes. My standby
power page has more info on this.
U.S. household energy 
Electrical usage of household items
The chart at right shows how the average home used energy (not just electricity) in 2007. (Dept. of Energy) Of course, heating is a bigger chunk in the winter and air conditioning is a bigger chunk in the summer. For example, AC accounts for 6070% of the average home's summertime power bill in Austin. (Austin Energy) Places which aren't as hot in summer don't get a break, because they're generally colder in winter and so more is spent on heating. Below at right is the energy use for an allelectric home in Tallahassee, Florida, which shows that 60% of the energy goes to heating and cooling. (City of Tallahassee)At the bottom of this page is a chart showing the relative
use of various appliances. (DoE)
Note
that this doesn't really jibe with the pie chart above from
the DoE. (Refrigerators and appliances use different
amounts in the different charts.) If I can ever find the
time, I'll try to make my own chart.
Here are some other websites that give sample costs for various household items considering how much those items are used:
Individual Appliances
At far right is a table listing examples of the
wattage of common household appliances.
Appliances that create or remove heat use the most electricity. In the table at right, appliances that make things hot are listed in red and ones that make things cold are listed in blue. As you can see, together they dwarf everything else on the list.
Don't like my table? Here's another table from Generator Sales. A database which lists power data for specific models of products is Power Consumption Database.
Remember that electrical usage varies from model to model, and that the tables on this site are just examples. (See how to misinterpret this website.)
Figuring the use of your
own items
The best way to know how much energy your stuff uses is to
measure it. You can do that easily with a cheap
watthour meter, or you can do it for free by timing your
electric meter. I explain all this on the page about measuring
your
electrical use.A shortcut, though a little less accurate, is to just look at the product's label. Nearly everything you can plug into the wall has a label that says how much electricity it uses. (It may be printed directly into the plastic or metal.) You may have to hunt for the label. It's often located on the bottom or side of the device, or possibly where the power cord enters the unit. If the device is powered with an AC/DC adapter, the electrical rating is usually listed on the adapter itself.
If the label gives only the number of amps and not the number of watts, then just multiply the amps by 120 to get the number of watts. (Amps x Volts = Watts, and most U.S. electricity is ~120 volts. So a hot plate rated at 6 amps uses 6 x 120 = 720 watts, on the highest setting. Most other countries use 240 volts instead of 120, so outside of North America and Japan use 240 instead of 120 in your calculations.) Note that if a device is powered by a transformer (one of those great big plugs), then the transformer has converted the electricity from AC to DC, so you need to multiply by the DC voltage, not the AC voltage of 120. For example, if the device says "INPUT 9V, 0.5A", then that's 9 volts x 0.5 amps = 4.5 watts.
You may have noticed that appliances may be labeled 110, 115, or 120 volts. U.S. appliances are actually designed to accept a range of voltages, between 110120 volts, and the exact voltage coming out of your electrical socket can vary depending on conditions at the power plant and in your own home. Let's just agree that when we say 120 volts, we understand that it's actually a range from 110120. And just use 120 for your calculations (unless you're outside of North America or Japan, in which case you probably have 220240 volts).
Your device might actually list a huge voltage range, like 100240V. That just means that it will work with any country's voltage. For your calculations, use the voltage for the country where you're plugging the device in.
Some important caveats:
 The amount of electricity listed on the label is the maximum
amount that the appliance will ever use. For example,
a 300watt refrigerator will only run at 300 watts when the
compressor's running (which is when it makes that humming
sound, indicating that it's actually chilling the air
inside). Most of the time the fridge just sits there, using
only 5 watts or so for its electronics. If the amount of
work done by a device varies up and down, then so does its
energy use. (e.g., a stereo that can be turned up or down,
an oven that can be set at various temperatures, a fridge
that sometimes runs and sometimes doesn't, a computer that
sometimes spins its various drives and sometimes has to use
more of its brainpower, etc.) The label on computers is
particularly useless; a computer labeled at 300 watts
probably uses only about 100. (More on computers'
electrical use.) In just a bit we'll cover how to
measure the actual amount of electricity being used by a
device
 Many consumer items are advertised according to their
power output, not input. That means
the stereo that says 30 watts on the box might actually
require 50 watts to make 30 watts of sound (assuming the
volume was cranked), and your 900watt microwave oven might
actually use 1400 watts (on its highest setting). That's
because all electrical devices are inefficient  they have
to use some extra energy to do what they do.
 Some devices use energy even when they're not on. (Standby
power)
Exercise: Pretend there's an energy crisis and they start rationing electricity. You're given a bonus of 1000 watthours of electricity to use because you won a special drawing. If you're choosing between using your stereo or your central air conditioner, how long could you run each? Assume that your stereo uses 30 watts and your AC uses 3500 watts. (see answer)
Exercise: The power adapter on your laptop computer says its output is 24V and 1.875 amps. The input specs aren't listed for some reason. What's the maximum number of watts your computer could ever use? (see answer)
Energysaving strategies
Here's how much various strategies can save you.
Easy Strategies 

Strategy 
Up front cost  Savings per year 
(1) Use space heaters to heat only the rooms you're in (rather than a central system that heats the whole house), and turning off the heat when you're not home. 
$80  $1023 
(2) Use ceiling fans instead of the air conditioner  $100 if you don't already have ceiling fans 
$438 
(3) Turn off lights you're not using  $0  $274 
(4) Use a clothesline or a laundry rack instead of a dryer  $20  $196 
(5) Sleep your computer when you're not using it  $0  $178 
(6) Wash laundry in cold water instead of hot or warm  none  $152 
(7) Turn off a single 100watt light bulb, from running constantly  $0  $131 
(8) Replace ten 60watt light bulbs with compact fluorescents  $32  $123 
Total  $232 once 
$2515 every year 
Aggressive Strategies  
(9) Replace toploading washer with frontloading washer  $500  $99 
(10) Replace 1992 fridge with a new Energy Star model  $440 
$75 
Total  $940 once 
$174 every year 
Assumptions: (Calculations are always
only as good as the assumptions. See how
to
misquote this website.) 