Knowing what costs the most on your electric bill can help you optimize you energy consumption in order to lower your expenses and keep more money to spend on other aspects of your life.
I am an electrical engineer with more than a decade of experience, and I decided to write this list in order to help you know the biggest contributors to your electricity bill, how to minimize the effect of each one of them, and the way to eliminate their effect almost entirely.
Without further ado, let’s begin!
9 Loads That Cost The Most on Your Electric Bill
Recommended for US Homeowners:
Space Heating & Cooling
Heating and cooling for air or space is the biggest consumer of energy, and it might account for 50% or more of your energy bill. (Source)
And while cooling is mainly provided by air conditioners and other cooling appliances that work primarily on electric energy, heating might be different as it is sometimes provided through a central heating system that uses gas or other fuel to heat water.
And in some other cases, heating is powered by electricity through an AC unit that works on heating mode, a central heating system with an electric boiler, or space heaters.
But even if you use gas or diesel to heat water for the central heating system, you still need electricity to run electric pumps that will circulate the water inside the popes of the heating system, and usually, these work 24/7.
This all makes space heating and cooling usually what costs the most on your electric bill.
And being conscious when using these systems can help you significantly lower your electric bill in winter and summer by adopting the right habits for running the ac economically, saving on the central heating bill, and using IR space heaters that can be more efficient and cheaper to run in some cases .
Some of these good habits is to turn on and off the AC to save energy, heating and cooling only the used spaces, keeping the desired temperature for as long as possible through isolating the different zones or rooms and keeping doors and windows closed.
Water heating is usually the second most costly load on electric bill.
If you are using a gas boiler or a gas water heater, then it won’t be on your electric bill, but in most cases, electricity is what is used to heat water through electric boilers and electric water heaters.
And there are lots of ways to save energy on water heating, such as: using a water heater timer to save money as it is not cheaper to keep hot water on all the time, using tankless water heaters in some cases where they can save money, using water saving heads in order to minimize the consumption of hot water, and more.
A two-door refrigerator uses around 1 kWh per day on average.
That’s around 30 kWh per month, and on electricity price of 15 cents/kWh, that’s around $4.5 a month.
That might not seem like a lot, but if you are unconscious of how you use your fridge, you might end up paying much more than this amount of money, which is why I added refrigeration to the loads that cost the most on your electricity bill.
Some of the mistakes that a lot of people do is to keep the fridge too close to the wall, or to let the dust accumulate on the refrigeration coils, and both prevent the fridge from working efficiently, thus, consuming more energy than is normally required in order to do its job.
Also, some people keep the fridge door open for long time when they open it to put something in or take something from there, which makes it lose the low temperature inside it, requiring it to work much longer in full capacity in order to substitute the lost cold air.
And the same way when not paying attention when closing its doors completely.
Dishwasher & Dryer
Dish washers can save you time and water if used the right way.
Some people operate them even if they were not full, which is wrong, because this way, they end up running them more frequently for the full time of the washing-drying cycle, which means more energy consumption.
And hot drying uses a lot of energy as it needs to be activated for around 60 minutes with each load.
For a 900-watts dish washer, that means around 0.9kWh used on drying dishes with every dish washing load.
Once per day, that’s around 27kWh per month only on hot drying, and for the rate of 15 cents per kWh, that’s around $4 of avoidable energy consumption that you could save if you just used natural drying.
It is better to operate the dish washer less often and only in full loads if you want to save electricity, and you better use natural drying instead of forced or hot drying that consumes a lot of energy and adds a lot to your electric bill.
Washing Machine & Dryer
The washing machine usually heats water before using it to wash clothes, and it uses electricity to dry clothes afterwards, using both, the spinning drying and the hot drying mechanisms.
This is in addition to the electricity it consumes during the washing cycle.
It is better to do full loads when doing laundry in order to minimize the total amount of energy used to heat water and to wash clothes.
And to save more, you better dry clothes naturally instead of using the hot drying mode.
Some washing machines draw around 1500 watts during the hot drying, which might take up to a full hour.
That means around 1.5 kWh for every washing-drying cycle.
If you do laundry twice a week, that’s 8 per month, multiplied by 1.5, which translates to 12 kWh per month.
At 15 cents per kWh rate, that’s around $1.8 dollars a month.
That’s for the drying alone, not for the washing cycle.
And the more washing cycles you do, the more you add to your electric bill.
This is why it is recommended to full loads of laundry, and to use natural drying instead of hot drying.
And depending on where you live and if you get charged for electricity based on the time-of-use tariff, you could choose the best time to do laundry to save energy and money.
A typical iron uses around 1500 watts when plugged in.
For a complete hour, that’s around 1.5 kWh of energy consumption.
Not to mention that it needs to consume some energy at the beginning of each use in order to heat up the required temperature.
Like it is with doing laundry, you better to do ironing in full loads, and not to waste lots of time doing other stuff when the iron is plugged in.
Electric Stove, Oven & Microwave
Electric appliances in the kitchen like stoves and microwaves use a lot of energy.
A 1.5kW electric stove that works two hours a day would consume the total of around 90 kWh per month.
At the rate of 15 cents/kWh, that’s around $13.5 per month.
And the microwave also uses a lot of electricity, but you might turn it on for a shorter period of time.
One thing that you can do is to time your use of these appliances to just before when you want to have food, and to try to get everyone to have the same meal at the same time in order to avoid turning on these appliances more often.
Another tip is that if you get charged based on the TOU tariff, it might be sometimes cheaper to use the stove to cook food during the cheap rates, try to keep the food hot or warm, and if you need to re-heat it during the peak tariff hours, you might use the microwave to heat it up in few minutes.
Lighting is one of the most underrated energy consumers that adds a lot to electric bills without noticing it.
This is sometimes due to using to inefficient lighting units like incandescent lamps that consume a lot of electricity, using more lighting units that needed for a certain area, or wasting electricity by leaving lights on when you don’t need them in certain rooms or other places like corridors, stairwell, entrance, bathroom, kitchen, …etc.
To reduce the effect of lighting costs on your electricity bill, you might consider replacing inefficient lighting units with LED lights as they use less energy, turn off the lights when knowing is in the place where they are turned on, use a photocell sensor to automatically turn off the lights in places where people keep forgetting them on, turn off you don’t need them, and maybe using solar charged lights with a battery for the external entrance and the backyard.
Electric cars are great as they cost less on fuel than traditional cars, but they add to your electric bill.
And depending on how much energy your car uses per mile or kilometer, and how much you drive every month, the cost of charging your car on your electricity bill will be defined.
A Nissan Leaf car with a 40-kWh battery can be enough for driving around 149 miles.
Assuming that a full charge can be sufficient for your use for one week, that means that in a month, you need 4 X 40 = 160 kWh to charge your car four times and cover all of your trips.
At the rate of 15 cents per kWh, that means $24.
And for other cars, it might cost more if they offer less mileage per kWh, and you might pay more for the same car in this example if you drive more than 149 miles per week.
That’s still mostly cheaper than buying gas for a combustion engine powered car, but it is something that adds a significant part to your electricity bill.
Two things you can do to minimize the effect of charging your electric vehicle on your electric bill are:
- Charging your car during the times of off-peak rates.
- Installing a solar car charging station.
Unintended Big Power Bill Contributors
Above where the ten loads and systems that add the most to your electricity bill that could cost you a lot because of your normal usage.
But there are other contributors that can unintentionally add a lot to electric bills, such as:
Old, Broken & Unmaintained Appliances
Broken appliances can withdraw a lot of power in order to do their job and give you the results that they are supposed to give under normal conditions.
For example, a broken water heater can cause a high electric bill due to the inefficient heating element or insulation, or due to constant leakage that requires heating more water in as long as it is turned on.
And the same applies to broken or faulty thermostats that increase electric bill as they cause the heating and cooling systems to work inefficiently.
Also, not doing regular maintenance for some systems like the air conditioner and the central heating could cause these systems to work at a lower efficiency and consume more energy.
Follow the manufacturers’ recommendations for regular maintenance of these systems, and be conscious of any appliance that might be faulty and try to fix it asap in order to keep everyone safe and keep your electric bill as low as possible.
And old appliances in general are less efficient than new appliances.
If you have a major appliance that is older than twenty years, you might consult a professional to see if an upgrade is worth it.
Leaving appliances plugged in all the time might cause them to withdraw power and waste energy, thus, causing unnecessary costs on your electric bill.
Try to keep appliances turned off when you are not using them, and unplug the appliances that you don’t use on frequent basis.
Many electricity companies charge their customers different rates based on the time they withdraw energy from the grid, which is why energy companies want smart meters to be installed at the consumer side.
This means a higher price per kWh consumed during certain hours of the day, known as peak hours, and a lower price during other hours.
And not paying attention can cause you a significantly high bill and make everything cost more on your electricity bill.
Try to know what are the peak hours of your electricity supplier by calling them or through their website, and try to shift as much of your consumption as you can to outside these hours by changing the time of doing certain activities that require a lot of energy such as laundry, dish washing, ironing, heating water, …etc.
Conclusion – Lower The Cost of Everything on Your Electric Bill
With this list of the nine loads that cost the most on your electric bill, you now know how to control the amount of money you pay by being conscious of how you use your appliances in a way to lowers your electricity bill.
But there’s something even better.
In case that you own the place you live in, you might be able to eliminate your electric bill almost entirely by installing a solar energy system that generates the average amount of energy that you consume every month.
And although building a solar plant can cost quite some money, but there’s a solution for that!
How 10,000’s of US Homeowners Lowered The Costs on Electric Bills with $0 Down Payment
This is possible because some solar companies can now help you find the possible financing solutions for building a complete solar plant for your home or even business without paying anything in advance.
If you are interested in this solution, you can visit their website, enter the zip code for your location, and finish a 1-minute survey, and they will contact you to arrange for a free appointment to discuss the available funding solutions.
This is the way if you want to entirely eliminate most of the costs of different loads on your electricity bill.
I hope that this article was helpful and insightful for you.
If you still need help with anything related to this article, or that you think that there’s something else that costs the most on your electric bill and you want to discuss it, please, feel free to tell me in the comments’ section below, and I will do my best to help you out 🙂