Common Household Energy Wasters

Coin stacked in increments near a red plug concept of expensive electricity

In 2010, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) conducted a study that showed the US’s total number of set-top boxes (160 million at that time) used up as much electricity as all the households in the entire State of Maryland in a year. That’s about 27 billion kilowatt hours. There was no difference between a powered-up set-top box and one switched off but plugged in.

There may be some hungry power-eaters in your home, like your set-top box, and you don’t even know about them. They may be responsible for adding as much as 30% to your total energy bill. cites some of those energy wasters, and some suggestions on how to keep them from eating up as much power as they do now.

Broken appliances

Some appliances may continue to function, but can give only a smaller percentage of their optimal functionality. Your HVAC, especially if it’s old or faulty, is an example. It may continue to run, but take longer for you to feel its effects. Not only is it eating up more energy; forcing it to work harder may lead to costly repairs or replacement. If you notice declining performance, call an HVAC repair technician immediately.

Water heater

Even when you’re not showering or washing the dishes, the water heater keeps the tank hot, for that moment when you need to use it. It can add more than $300 to your annual energy bill. To reduce that, you may want to spend a bit more for the installation of a solar power system or a tankless or on-demand system.


Home heating is probably your biggest energy user. As much as $600 to $700 a year goes to heating. Trying to heat your house rapidly can make it worse. Instead, put your thermostat on a lower setting when you’re out or turn it off. Use thicker blankets and warmer bed covers when sleeping so you don’t have to turn up the heat. Close the rooms you don’t often use, and spend a bit more money to improve your insulation. Caulk and sealant on tiny holes and cracks in the wall, particularly around your windows, can help.


Gaming, entertainment, “home cloud systems”, and other consoles, use more electricity and cause your bills to go up when plugged in at the same time while not in use. Don’t just turn them off; unplug anything you’re not using.


Turn on the lights in rooms you use and turn them off when you leave. Switch to LED or CFL lighting products, which have longer life and lower power consumption.

Look around your home and find the appliances, devices, and other items that use electricity. Find out which ones you really need and which ones you can do away with. If you’re focused on saving energy, the answers should be easy.