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Watch out for these top energy-sucking appliances in the home

By Rachel England Thursday 19 September 2013

When you think of the electricity you use in your house, your first thought is probably the lights, right? But lighting accounts for only around 10-15% of your electricity bill – the rest is spent on power-hungry gadgets, gizmos and appliances. Here are the biggest offenders, plus a few energy saving tips on keeping your energy plan costs down! 

Electricity cost calculator

  • Use our electricity cost calculator. It helps you to work out how much it costs for the electricity to run various household appliances.


top energy sucking appliances

Plasma TVs

Plasma TVs might make for a better viewing experience, but they’ll do your energy consumption – and wallet – no favours, clocking up a whopping average 658 kWh a year. That’s about £100.

If you’re in the market for a new TV, consider an LCD model instead, which will use about half the energy (and cost half as much) to run as a plasma version. But if you already own a plasma TV, follow these helpful hints to keep its running costs down:

  • It’s better to turn your TV on to standby than to leave it running, but it’s even better to turn it off completely if it’s not being used. Check out smart extension power strips that can help make this a doddle to remember.

  • Make sure the brightness of the screen isn’t set too high – factory settings are typically brighter than necessary.

  • If you listen to the radio through your TV, be sure to use the radio screen blanking feature.

  • If your TV boasts an energy-saving mode, use it! This can reduce power consumption by a third.

Washing machines and tumble dryers

Doing just two loads of washing and drying a week can cost around £45 per year. Turn up the heat, or add extra loads, and that cost goes up, up, up! Check out our guide to using appliances more efficiently, and follow these top tips to lower your laundry costs:

  • It goes without saying, use as low a heat setting as possible! Most detergents work just fine at 30◦c.

  • Make sure both your washer and dryer are in good condition. They’ll do their jobs more efficiently if detergent drawers are kept clean and lint is removed regularly.

  • Give clothes an extra spin before putting them in the dryer. This helps remove even more moisture, and the extra electricity used is far less than the tumble dryer would need to achieve the same effect.



A combined fridge-freezer uses around 427 kWh per year, which costs about £62. It’s even more expensive if you own separate appliances, with stand alone fridges using an average 162 kWh per year (about £23.50) and chest freezers using 363 kWh (£52.50). Consider replacing older models with newer, more energy efficient versions (more on energy efficiency here), but in the meantime:

  • Set your fridge to 3-4°c and your freezer to between -15°c and -18°c. Every degree lower than this uses up to 5% more energy.

  • Keep freezers well-stocked to keep the cold in, but don’t overload fridges, as they have to have to work extra hard (and use more energy) to keep everything cool.

  • Make sure fridges and freezers are kept out of direct sunlight and away from heat-generating appliances such as ovens and tumble dryers.

Electric cookers

Electric cookers

The phrase ‘cooking on gas’ is popular for a reason! Oven tops with electric hobs are not only slow to heat up but costly to run, too, with the average oven with electric hob eating through 317 kWh a year, to the tune of £46.

  • If you can, use a microwave instead – these use an average of only 56 kWh of energy a year, costing £8.

  • Remember, an electric hob won’t get hotter any faster by cranking it up to the max – it’ll just create wasted energy when you have to eventually turn it down again.

  • Only use the oven’s self-cleaning cycle (if you have one) on major clean-up operations. Otherwise, get in there with a bit of elbow grease!

Electric kettles

Everyone loves a cuppa, but electric kettles are one of the biggest energy offenders, simply because they get used so often. Over the course of a year, the average home’s kettle will use 167 kWh of electricity, costing around £25. Overfill though, and that cost skyrockets. We Brits waste a total of £68m a year on powering unnecessarily full kettles!

  • The golden rule: Don’t overfill! Only boil as much water as you need. If you’re a bit absent-minded, consider purchasing a swish new model that will only allow you to boil as much water for the number of cups you require.

Desktop computers

Desktop computers

Compared to their portable laptop counterparts, desktop computers are pretty energy hungry (166 kWh compared to just 29 kWh), costing an average of around £25 a year to run (£4 for laptops). Throw printers and modems into the mix and you’re using even more.

  • Computers use about the same amount of power while they sit idle as they do when they’re working at maximum capacity, so make use of the sleep mode!

  • If you can, update your monitor to a newer, more energy efficient LCD or LED model. If not, be sure to turn your screen off whenever you’re away from your desk – doing so reduces old tube/CRT monitor energy usage by half.

  • Switch off all your equipment overnight. And that means off! Not on standby. If this is too fiddly or cumbersome, consider investing in a smart extension power strip to make the job simpler.


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