How Much Electricity Does Your Home Really Use?

Thinking about cutting back on electricity bills? Here are some ways you can calculate how much your home really uses!


Photo: Heathered Nest

Electricity usage is as much a financial issue as an environmental one, and people are always looking to cut down on waste. Whether your motivations are monetary or not, knowing how much electricity your home uses can be the first step in figuring out how to cut back.

Getting a safety inspection or energy audit is one option, but you can determine a little more information on your power consumption yourself before you get professionals involved.

Before we begin, you need to understand the right units for electricity use. Power used in the home is measured in kilowatt-hours, or kWh. Each kWh stands for 1,000W of power used for one hour. It’s the most commonly used unit for consumption.

Check Your Bill

The best and most accurate way to see how much power your house is using is to check your utility bill. Presuming there is no errors in your metering, it should precisely report how much electricity you used during that period. An average American home uses 897 kWh per month, to give you a point of reference.

Check Appliances

Your bill only tells you the total for the entire house. You might want more information to see which appliances or devices are responsible for the highest energy draws. Large appliances often have labels with this information so it’s just a matter of checking on the back to see what you can learn. Smaller devices won’t always be marked though. You can purchase power meters that plug into the wall, and then your device plugs into the meter and it will read exactly how much power that item is drawing.

How to Reduce Usage

So now that you’ve figured out more details on how much electricity your house uses, what about some tips on bringing that down. If you have any major appliances that are older, they may be drawing a lot more power than a more up-to-date version would, and it may actually be a smart financial move to invest in a new appliance to create long term savings. Refrigerators, washing machines, driers and dishwashers all have energy ratings so you can compare models as you shop for a more efficient model.

Another trick is to turn off items like computers and televisions when they are not in use. And by turn off, we mean to actually cut the power from the outlet (a power bar with on/off switch works well). Larger devices like today’s big screen TVs continue to draw a small amount of power even when they are turned off. It’s known as a phantom load. If a television is going to be unused all day, it makes sense to cut the power completely at the plug instead. Any small appliances with clocks or remote controls are the same. Phone chargers that are left plugged into the wall but not connected to your phone also consumer a small amount of power.

And of course, all the classic tried-and-true tips about turning off lights when nobody is in the room and only running the dishwasher or washing machine when full are still worth following too.

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