Electricity Consumption Comparisons for Home Appliances and Electronics

Throughout your home, there are several appliances you and your family use each day that require electricity to run — possibly more than you realize. Actual power consumption varies by appliance, brand and model, but learning how much electricity these appliances and home electronics generally require can help you understand how much money you are spending to use them. 

Take a look at the charts below to compare the electricity consumption of regular household items. You'll see some unlikely appliances paired with each other to show where your money is going and to shine a light on high-energy-consuming appliances you may not have considered.

Usage Comparison #1: Dishwasher vs. Desktop Computer

Device Wattage per hour
Dishwasher 330
Desktop computer 75

The dishwasher uses significantly more electricity than a desktop computer. Although the computer uses electricity to power itself and possibly many accessories such as the monitor, modem and router, there are two large energy-draining functions associated with the dishwasher. It needs electricity to make the machine run and to heat the water.  To save electricity using the dishwasher, users should run the light cycle and definitely turn off the heated drying option. The heated dryer does not kill bacteria or clean your dishes. It simply stops the dripping, which time can do on its own.

Source: TreeHugger

Usage Comparison #2: Hair Dryer vs. Ceiling Fan

Device Wattage per hour
Hair dryer 710
Ceiling fan 35

One might think the hair dryer and ceiling fan have comparable electricity usage since both items are small and the hair dryer is only used for short periods of time, but in reality, the hair dryer uses much more electricity. For instance, you would need to run your ceiling fan for more than 20 hours to use the same amount of electricity as your hair dryer uses in only a few minutes. Because the hair dryer has to produce a very high degree of heat, it consumes a great deal of electricity. One way to cut back on using your hair dryer is to let your hair air dry, especially in the summer months.

Source: Mother Earth News

Usage Comparison #3: Iron vs. Microwave Oven

Device Wattage per hour
Iron 1,100
Microwave oven 1,500

Other small appliances that use a lot of electricity are the iron and the microwave oven. Again, the creation of heat is the culprit. Although the electricity consumption of these two items is close in comparison, the microwave oven consumes more electricity because it uses high-frequency radio waves to heat water molecules.

Source: California Energy Commission

Usage Comparison #4: Toaster vs. Refrigerator

Device Wattage per hour
Toaster 1,100
Refrigerator 225

In this scenario, the numbers can be deceiving. The toaster does require more wattage to run than the refrigerator. However, the refrigerator will end up costing you more in the long run because it stays running all day and night to keep your food cold and fresh.  Most people don't use their toasters all day long (which would be a fire hazard), so the wattage consumed on a daily basis may be somewhere above a hair dryer but lower than a microwave.

Source: Kompulsa

Usage Comparison #5: Video Game System vs. Garage Door Opener

Device Wattage per hour
Video game system 36
Garage door opener 400

Although gamers may spend hours playing their favorite video game, all that use no way compares to the electricity used by the garage door opener. Since many garage openers have a remote control, the opener stays on even when it isn’t operating because it is constantly waiting for the radio signal to tell it to open.

Source: Green Building Advisor

Usage Comparison #6: Coffee Maker vs. Slow Cooker

Device Wattage per hour
Coffee maker 1,000
Slow cooker 200

Making a pot of coffee in the morning may take more electricity than preparing a meal in your slow cooker. In a coffee maker, a lot of heat is required to boil the water and warm the heat plate the coffee pot sits on. You would have to keep your slow cooker on for more than five hours for it to equal the amount of electricity consumed by the coffee maker. Many people leave their slow cookers on for eight to 10 hours to cook a meal, so it could be difficult to say which uses more, depending on how long you keep your coffee pot on each day. No one can deny the power punch the coffee maker delivers for a short duration of use. Don’t forget to unplug it once you're finished with your coffee to save electricity and money.

Source: Energy Hotwire

Usage Comparison #7: Space Heater vs. LED TV

Device Wattage per hour
Space heater 1,320

Since an electric space heater works to provide heat quickly, it consumes much more electricity than a TV. If you use a space heater regularly, you could see a hefty hike in your electricity bill. Space heaters should generally only be used if you want to heat one small area instead of several spaces.

Source: U.S. Department of Energy

Usage Comparison #8: Clothes Dryer vs. Portable Spa (Hot Tub)

Device Wattage per hour
Clothes dryer 2,790
Portable spa (hot tub) 4,350

Both of these require a large amount of electricity to run because both produce a lot of heat. However, the hot tub uses much more than a clothes dryer. It is larger than a dryer, and much of the heat escapes from the hot tub while in use, unlike the dryer. As a side note, if choosing between a portable spa or an in-the-ground spa, choose a portable one because they tend to be better insulated and usually include covers to help heat from escaping. The cover is essential not only for the maintenance of your hot tub, but for keeping your electricity costs down.

Source: California Energy Commission

If you're interested in finding more wattage information for several different types of appliances and electronics, the U.S. Department of Energy has an incredibly useful energy estimator located here: https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/estimating-appliance-and-home-electronic-energy-use.