Published on April 30th, 2016 | by Glenn Meyers


What Uses The Most Energy In US Homes? (Infographic)

April 30th, 2016 by  

Originally published on Green Building Elements.

Take a close look at this infographic to see what power-thirsty vampire appliances consume the most energy in your home – and how to stop them.

We give thanks to Homeselfe co-founder Ameeta Jain, who is sharing this useful infographic on how you can cut your energy bills by up to 30% each month by just making a variety of changes in your home.

Look below the see the top 10 leading vampire appliances that excel at sucking excess energy. Then go on an energy efficiency treasure hunt, and find out how to stop these power-thirsty vampires from sucking energy from your home.

(Naturally, the numbers below are averages — someone living in Florida likely spends much more on cooling than heating, for example.)

Vampire appliances suck energy from your home when they are not in use

Along with this Homeselfe infographic, the Alliance to Save Energy reports, “doing more with less energy benefits you, your country, and the world. The benefits of energy efficiency are numerous.” It adds that the top 5 reasons people, companies, and governments get their energy efficiency groove on are:

  1. Energy efficiency saves you money.
  2. Energy efficiency improves the economy.
  3. Energy efficiency is good for the environment.
  4. Energy efficiency improves national security.
  5. Energy efficiency enhances quality of life.

“These reasons are in no particular order because each person’s priorities are unique.”

The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) leads a community of researchers and other partners to continually develop innovative, cost-effective energy-saving solutions. Research and development programs like this “…help make our country run better through increased efficiency—better plants, advanced materials and manufacturing processes, products, new homes, ways to improve older homes, and buildings in which to work, shop, and lead our everyday lives.”

Take this Homeselfe information and share it with friends, family, and communities. We will all benefit from this kind of energy information sharing.

Image via Homeselfe

Complete our 2017 CleanTechnica Reader Survey — have your opinions, preferences, and deepest wishes heard.

Check out our 93-page EV report, based on over 2,000 surveys collected from EV drivers in 49 of 50 US states, 26 European countries, and 9 Canadian provinces.

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About the Author

is a writer, producer, and director. Meyers was editor and site director of Green Building Elements, a contributing writer for CleanTechnica, and is founder of Green Streets MediaTrain, a communications connection and eLearning hub. As an independent producer, he's been involved in the development, production and distribution of television and distance learning programs for both the education industry and corporate sector. He also is an avid gardener and loves sustainable innovation.

  • dogphlap dogphlap

    I live in Australia and here we tend not to use kettles but rather electric jugs to heat water for a cup of tea or coffee. This can be very wasteful. I have observed most people heat up twice or more as much water as they actually use which then cools until re-heated for the next hot beverage. The current crop of electric jugs mostly do not have an obvious element that needs to be kept covered by water during use (the resistive heating element is beneath the bottom stainless steel inner surface of the jug) so I just have a measuring cup I use to tip just the required amount of water into the jug each time I use it. I do not replenish the water before the jug has cooled in order to avoid thermal shock to the element.
    Doing it this way minimises the time required to make a coffee, it’s win win.
    A small additional benefit is the water is tap fresh each time whereas boiling more water than is needed each time removes more free oxygen from the water per cup which I pretend has a deleterious affect on the flavour of the coffee I brew in my French Press (pretty sure a double blind taste test would fail to validate that though).

  • plainview2

    I have monitored my usage through my monthly power bill and have discovered what is happening since solar has become a whooping 1% of the US energy mix.
    Fees and charges outside of KWh supplied are becoming 45-50% of the bill.
    The rate payer is the cow being milked.
    Institute of local self reliance is having a webinar entitled.” beyond sharing’ on May 11 that as I read the promo is asking the question will ;community solar benefit the ratepayer or again the monopoly and investor paradigm.
    As large as that HVAC load is, Administrative cost are fast approaching that 47% figure.
    Where once, “eliminate your power bill” was the mantra of Mother Earth in the 70s and the 2016, winter energy issue of Fine homebuilding had a lead in title, “eliminate your power bill”; the net metering wars are a social movement to retain the 100 year old monopoly financial model of guaranteed profit for the rich passive income investor.
    Go ahead. Put that solar system on your house that you passively designed.
    Your monthly power bill is not going to change unless the ratepayer revolts.
    The bottom line to this energy investor is the monthly bill.
    I no longer care how the lifestyle of the rich and famous pans out on my monthly investment in the monopoly.

    • Mike Dill

      My ‘connection fee’ is scheduled to go up to $1.50/day in a few years. I am getting close to ‘netting out’ my electric bill usage, and this charge will be almost all of my bill by then. For that $500/year, I expect that I will be able to get enough storage to ‘revolt’, disconnect, and keep the investment income for myself.

  • Deborah

    Is the average cost of lighting correct? It says $28 and is ranked #4. Should it be $280 if it is actually the #4 cost driver?

  • Steve

    Grid-tie and leasing, you’re betting that net metering will be here for at least the next twenty years.

    • sundug

      I have a 20 year contract with TVA, first 10 years they pay me 12 cents a KWH over their base charge, second 10 is net. No leasing.

      • Steve

        Sundog, you got a good deal. I’ll leave assumptions out next time.

  • Mike Dill

    I have a different take on energy efficiency. For about six months of every year, here in southern Nevada, every watt I use in my house needs to be extracted from my house by the AC unit. If i reduce my use, it unloads the AC unit, multiplying my efficiency gains.
    LED lighting, Inductive stove-top, Energy star appliances. All of these things reduce my AC load, and with an efficient unit, I use much less electricity. The non-sexy piece is the extra insulation that I have installed, which will be there forever.
    I am working on getting electrically ‘net-zero’. I added an EV that has changed my energy mix and will be adding more solar PV to my roof this year to help get closer to that balance.

  • Steve

    USG Energy Website, it’s awesome. What do you guys/gals think? The website is well presented and very informative. Navigate all the links at the top of the linked website, please.

    Awesome Site:
    Tax Credits and rebates by state:

  • neroden

    This does show that heating is absolutely dominant. No surprise.

    Superinsulate your house. Get an ERV.

  • Adrian

    My biggest electricity user… Is my car, about 12kWh/workday.

    In the summer, at least. In the winter it’s the minisplit heat pumps. Must do more air sealing…

    • neroden

      If you do a complete job of air sealing, remember to install an HRV or ERV.

      • Adrian

        Absolutely, I still need enough air coming in to make up for what the woodstoves send up the chimney!

        • GCO

          Please tell us this was sarcasm… right?
          (besides, HRV/ERVs aren’t designed to provide make-up air)

  • Philip W

    Laptops don’t use more energy than desktops. It’s usually the other way around.

    • Sven Ollino

      Yeah, I thought thats was a typo. It makes no sense to have the battery powered version to be the power-hungry one. It could be the other way around only when you compare a 3D CAD/Gaming laptop to a cheap business desktop.

      • neroden

        Workstations designed for deployment in business tend to actually have very low power draw. Perhaps this is because they generally put dozens or hundreds per room and are trying to cut the A/C bill.

        • Sven Ollino

          Most enterprises purchase i3 and i5 CPU based workstations for general use witch have a much higher TDP than mobile counterparts, the motherboards have a higher power use (but allow for expandability), the cheaper 3.5″ hard disks have a higher consumption and lastly the 22-24″ screens use much more power than laptop screens.
          Yes, power usage has been going down significantly in the last 10 years because CPUs are more efficient but also due to LED LCD monitors. There is another way to make workstations use less power – use terminals instead of real computers to offload and consolidate computing to servers.

  • Steven F

    The line that says laptops consume more energy than desktops is not correct. Every laptop I have ever owned has consumed less power than a desk top. But don’t take my word for it. Look at the power consumption label or hook up a power meter. Laptops generally have more memory, faster video graphics chip and other capabilities that all consume power. many laptops don’t have those capabilities. and lower power consumption.

    However that said the power consumption difference between laptops and desktops has been steadily dropping. Many desktops in the early 90;s would have 100 to 200W power supplies. Most laptops were in the 50W range. The reason for the difference was because designers put more effort in efficiency to reduce battery size and weight in laptop. Now many of the power saving laptop features are now frequently standard on all types of computers making the difference between types smaller.

    • vensonata .

      An apple laptop/notebook has about a 75 whr battery. It runs for 9 hours on that, the draw is 8watts, no desktop is close to that. 9 hours a day on a computer should be enough for anybody…shouldn’t it? I think some of the figures in the article are a bit dated.

  • jonesey

    So by adding inconvenience to my life by unplugging electronics and having them take time to boot up before I use them, I can save a penny or two per day? You really want me to plug in my microwave every time I want to see what time it is or heat up some leftovers? No thanks. It is communication like this that gives a bad name to energy efficiency and its advocates.

    Adjusting your thermostat by one degree will save more than all of this fiddly stuff combined. Riding your bicycle or walking just a single one-mile round trip per day instead of driving will save you $100 per year, which is more than the total cost (not just the wasted energy) of your computer, TV, and set-top boxes combined.

    • You do not need to plug and unplug everything every time. You can use a smart energy strip:
      These strips have a master plug where you can plug in the TV or desktop computer and then a lot of slave plugs where you can plug in the peripherals. The strip senses when the master is turned on and energizes the slave plugs. It cuts them off when the master is turned off. This device can cuts vampire plug loads without any effort.

      I use a set of remote switch plugs:
      The remote is mounted in a central hallway and labeled with each appliance or group of appliances that I want to cut off. When done with the appliance I just go to the remote and switch the appliance off completely. This requires remembering but after a while it becomes a habit.

      For things that require considerable boot time like the DVR/set-top box I do not permanently switch it off. I could reduce my vampire loads from 230W to 160W now. That is still 1400 kWh wasted each year. It is the third highest energy use after space and water heating in my all-electric house. The Bay area, California average vampire load is 250 W.

  • Bob_Wallace

    Get a Kill-A-Watt or other electricity use measuring meter. (About $20, share it with others).

    Measure how much your refer, TV, other stuff uses. You may find that some of your stuff that is about worn out and will need to be replaced in the next few years are energy hogs. Compare how much electricity you’d save by replacing them now.

    • Loren McDonald

      A few years ago I bought a Belkin energy use monitor and found that the old refrigerator I had put in the garage to store various beverages and things … was costing me an estimated $200+ per year. Got rid of it real quick.

  • Steve

    Anyone considering solar should get their house in order first. Get rid of your inefficient appliances. Your ROI will blow away any returns on most solar investments. For some, that means you will have to wait a couple of more years before investing in solar. But it isn’t a big deal because it is very likely that prices will continue to fall and better energy solutions will be available in the future.

    • Freddy D

      And insulate your home – look at the 50% slice of that pie.

    • Loren McDonald

      That’s a fair argument … I hear that a lot. We remodeled our kitchen, washing room, etc a few years ago and so had the latest energy efficient appliances and then went with solar PPA about 2 years ago. I will say that one of the things that solar did for me was make me more aware of electric energy usage and then not having to pay any true-up dollars to my utility became a goal, which I achieved this past year.

      • Steve

        Congrats Loren!

  • Steve

    In the USA, they need to get rid of central air/heat, it’s seams so wasteful. A smart house should have rooms and hallways partitioned off. We built our home with the mindset that energy efficiency is our number one priority, aesthetics be damned!

    Specifically, the home we built here in Thailand, back in 2005, has five mini-splits for AC. The two main rooms are partitioned off with a sliding glass door and glass wall. Hallway entries have glass doors. Each bedroom has a mini-split. I have an on-demand hot water heater that I never use, but it’s available for the rest of the family.

    • Bob_Wallace

      You built a house in Thailand? It seems that insulation has yet to be invented in Thailand. Were you able to find insulation materials? (Considering building a house there in the next few years.)

      How about describing your “five mini-splits” AC?

      • Steve

        Bob, correct regarding the insulation. Typical construction in Thailand consist of these bricks covered in some type of cement slurry. No insulation materials in the walls. Dual pane windows is as good as it gets.

        Two Links below, one for the mini split and another for typical Thai construction material. I hope this helps.

        Keeping Cool:
        When the rooms are hot, the walls seem to radiate the heat. When a room is cooled, it stays cool for awhile because the walls seem to retain the “coolness,” if that’s a word.

        There is a line of ductless mini-splits that Mitshubishi Heavy Industries makes, it is called “Mr. Slim.” These units are purposed built to cool rooms in a residence versus a larger area. My units are now 11 years old, but at the time they were the most efficient units I could find.
        Links: There is no insulation in my home

        • Bob_Wallace

          Retaining heat/’cool’. That’s mass.

          I’ve looked around for insulation in Thailand. Home Pro (their Home Depot) seems to have only rolls of thin bubble wrap faced with aluminum foil. That’s really only a reflective barrier.

          I’ve played with the idea of using straw bale or papercrete. Thai home builders already do good concrete ‘post and beam’ framing with concrete. It would be simple to fill in between the concrete posts with a material that has insulation properties. Both approaches are labor intensive but labor is cheap and neither require and special skills.

          I think the ideal solution there would be rigid foam panels that could be applied to the exterior of the normal concrete block structure and then stuccoed over for an exterior finish.

          • Steve

            Yep, the nearest HomePro for me is in/near Pattaya. I live in Sattahip, very close to the Gulf of Thailand. It’s very close to U-Tapao International Airport. This place was the stomping grounds for US servicemen during the Vietnam Conflict.

            Cooling, build one room that is built like a walk-in freezer. If I were Thai, I would work for the local ice company for free or one of the millions of 7-11s. Any materiel you use should be mildew resistant due to the high humidity.

            If you move to Thailand, sell every appliance you have and buy new ones when you get here. I shipped all sorts of crap from California, big mistake. For some funny reason barbecue grills are really expensive here, I don’t get it.
            if I had to do it again:
            1. 55 gallons of Tabasco
            2. 55 gallons of Salsa
            *joking, but you get the point. I like Tabasco and I like Salsa

            Property laws here place limits on foreign ownership. My wife has dual citizenship, it’s held in her name. This is why it is also easy for me to get a visa. I renew my visa once a year near Pattaya.

            This area is perfect for me. Food is affordable, more affordable than Bangkok and Pattaya. My wife heads to the open market at 6:00am twice a week to do her shopping. There are many other stores that cater to the “farang,’ my favorite farang store is Makro. They have a nice selection

          • Bob_Wallace

            My wife is also Thai. We spend some of the winter each year at the family home in Bangkok but may build/buy a winter home there in a couple of years. (After her mother is gone there will be less need to spend time in BKK, which is too big a city for me.)

            I’m looking at somewhere in the north. We have relatives in the Lampang area and I like the smaller city/cooler nights better.

            And I want to take a good look at the mountains east of Chiang Mai. We stayed at the King’s northern palace (*Bhubing Rajanives Palace) for a few days about ten years ago. The weather there was excellent for my tastes, the gardens were full of the sort of flowers we grow in the US. Different than the tropical gardens of the rest of Thailand.*

            *Tabasco and salsa should be easy to make up on your own in Thailand. No shortage of hot peppers. Tomatoes, garlic, cilantro, onion – great salsa. Chop up some mango and add for a great salsa. *

            *Tomatoes are a bit disappointing. We’re going to take some other varieties to a couple of relatives who garden and see how they grow there.*

          • Steve

            My wife is originally from the Ang Thong (Anthong) Province. I wanted to be up north also, Chang Rai or Chang Mai. It has been about eleven years since I visited the north. I am sure a lot has changed since my visit. We bought about seven pieces of teak in Chang Mai and had it sent to California, it started to split after a few years. It was beautiful and ornate, just not practical due to due to my height.

            The political situation here has always been little shaky, as of late, a bit more shaky. As you may well know, the Thais are going to be voting on their constitutional referendum soon. There are other concerns that may not be discussed that you are well aware of.

            I use to sell/lease Avaya Voice/Data and network services to universities, casinos and medical centers, Las Vegas, Reno and S.Cal. I like to jump back into that game and get the California Indian casinos off-grid. I don’t know what the margins are looking like in this industry, but i do know how to close deals.

            I am raising my wife’s niece’s daughter. She currently attends a university in Bangkok. I will reevaluate my situation when the time comes. If someone were to reach out and let me have a go at the Indian casinos, I would be back in the states in a heartbeat. Kind of like my last hurrah in sales.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I’m very aware of the political problems. At this time I probably wouldn’t move full time to Thailand and put a lot of money into a nice large house. I’m afraid Thailand may go through some rough times during the transition.

            At this point I wouldn’t buy/build any larger a house than I could afford to abandon. I’m thinking of buying a nice piece of land, large enough for some distance from the neighbors and some garden space. And building a basic one bedroom, one bath house. Good sized rooms but hold off on additional rooms until it might be time to spend the entire year there.

            We might never move to Thailand on a year round basis. I love where we live now but as we age dealing with the winter (getting snowed in for long periods) becomes harder to deal with. Perhaps there will be a day when we need full time help which would be extremely expensive here. Then we’d need to move somewhere and Thailand is more attractive to me than some generic place in the US.

          • Steve

            Might Want to check this product out:

            Energy-efficient homes with brick Q-CON EXTRA COOL.

            Building energy-efficient homes with brick Q-CON EXTRA COOL “technology, the crystal structure of the formula Q-CON” where a brick texture distribution of bubbles regularly. The thermal resistance is 17 times better than brick to save on energy costs and better value. When used with a Q-CON Lintel beams, lintels, prefabricated wall quickly. And reduce the total cost of construction.


          • Bob_Wallace

            Thanks. An R-value 17x that of bricks (0.8) would be R-14. Not great but a hell of a lot better than a concrete wall.

            If some is making structural panels in Thailand then someone is probably making rigid external panels with a higher R-value that can be secured to standard construction and covered with stucco.

            Papercrete is a very interesting approach (for me) as it’s so low tech. And cheap. Basically you need a bunch of paper (newspapers, magazines, junk mail). Some cement. And a mixer.

            Start with the sort of post and beam concrete frame which is very common in Thailand. Lots of local builders know how to do floor slabs and concrete frames.


            Build the bones with concrete and fill in with papercrete.

            The paper is first soaked and mixed with cement in a mixer. It can be poured into bricks but I think the easiest way to build with low skilled labor would be to use slip forms. Make plywood forms about a foot to 18″ high, pour papercrete between the forms, let it set, move the forms up and pour another section of the walls. Once the walls are in place they can be stuccoed for a finish coat.

            Window and door frames can be set in place and papercrete poured around. Conduit for electrical outlets/switches can be attached to the forms with string and buried in the papercrete. Wires pulled later.

            An 8 inch papercrete wall would have a R-value between 16 and 24. That, along with some decent window placement, overhang and landscaping could greatly lower cooling requirements.

        • GCO

          Detail: the manufacturer of the Mr Slim line of heat pumps (which are great, I agree) is Mitsubishi Electric, not Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

          Also, the largest “Mr Slim” nowadays boasts a 16 kW ≈ 54kBTU/h = 4.5 ton max capacity (when heating, 100% remains available all the way down to -20°C / -5°F, wow). A single one of those should be plenty for most homes.

      • Freddy D

        Bob, as Steve mentioned, Mitsubishi is well known. There are a number of brands – Daikin, Sanyo, others. Single outdoor unit, manifold, connects to 1 to 5 indoor units, each in their own room. Get both heat and ac capability. shows ranges of what’s available and prices for equipment, but you’ll want to work with a qualified local contractor.

        If you don’t have ductwork, this is a great way to go. Many older east coast homes with oil fired boilers and no ductwork move to these and add AC at the same time as saving boatloads of money. Homeowners who have converted just love them, all the way to the bank and all the way through the hot summers. If you do have ductwork, consider central heat pump. It depends on how much of the home goes unused most days. Get more rooms covered with central. Get more fine room by room control with minisplit. Central initial cost might be less. If your ducts are leaky, central isn’t great though.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Leaky ductwork shouldn’t require much more than a couple of hours of labor and someone using the proper tape.

          Not duct tape.

          While they are there it would likely make sense to insulate the ductwork in the attic rather than wasting heat/cool.

    • Freddy D

      Central is just as efficient as mini-split (except in cases where most of the building goes unused). Insulate the structure well and cut the heating / cooling bill by 2/3. Works for mini-splits and central.

      • neroden

        2/3 is an underestimate. Going from leaky old houses in the cold Northeast US to a superinsulated house, you can cut the heating bill by 90%.

        • Freddy D

          Thanks – Yes! 90% reduction of that fattest slice of the consumption pie!

      • GCO

        Central heat/AC could be just as efficient, assuming ducts are well designed, inside the conditioned space, and that the structure is tight enough.
        It looks to me that this is unfortunately almost never the case, at least in existing south-western US homes, hence the appeal of ductless systems.

  • vensonata .

    Total, about $2000 year for energy, at a little over 12cents kwh. The actual average is about $2200 year for U.S. houses. Car about $3000 year for gas. $5200-5500 per year on average combined. That is a lot of after tax money every year. $52,000 is median income per household in the U.S. before tax. So average energy is about 15% of after tax income for median household. Clean energy and money saving tech and strategies should get peoples attention.

  • Syd

    A lot depends on the age/type of the appliance. My larger screen tv, larger than the one it replaced (which was also large), draws 0.25w on standby., that’s 6w/day when off, or about 2kw/year, that’s not saying much of anything.

    • Bob_Wallace

      I’m off the grid and have been watt-shaving for over 20 years. When I check power use (with Kill-A-Watt) I’m finding newer electronics just don’t pull power when turned off. The old power brick vampire seems to have gone away.

      • Freddy D

        Nice. Do you need heat in your climate? If so, how do you manage that without importing any fuel/energy to the property?

        • Bob_Wallace

          Wood heat. Many acres of storm downed trees for firewood. Fresh supply delivered every winter.

          Lucky years. None fall across the road and have to be removed in order to get out/in.

  • Brunel

    Seems like combining the water heater with the house/slab heater is an opportunity to cut waste.

  • JamesWimberley

    The clock on the microwave?! Some people should get a life. Set priorities. Turn down the thermostat at night, you will sleep better. Dry clothes on the line, only finishing off if necessary in the dryer. The set – top boxes are sorting themselves out quite soon, as new generations have better sleep chips.

    • Ross

      Yes. Heating & cooling are the categories to focus on. Simply letting time pass will address the other categories within the span of a couple of household appliance lifetimes.

      • Freddy D

        Yes – focus your attention on heating / cooling by insulating the structure. Ignore the vampires.

        • neroden

          When retrofitting, the priorities, in order should be air-sealing, (followed by ERV or HRV installation), vapor-sealing, then insulation. If you can get away with it, do the full exterior retrofit (where you wrap the entire house in a new exterior — air-seal, insulation, and siding).

          • Freddy D

            And there are pros who do this for a living, with tools to measure air leakage and heat loss. Or one can read up from books and tackle it themselves quite effectively. There are even a couple infared cameras available now that plug into an iPhone and are quite affordable for someone who really wants to get involved.

    • Omega Centauri

      MY microwave has an eco button, which turns off the clock display.
      My old microwave had a nixie tub clock that drew around five watts, but LEDs ought to be under a watt. The older models were said to use more energy on an annual basis for the clock than for cooking.

      • bill_christian

        Some vampire loads are significant. Some NOT. The clock display on a microwave oven uses virtually NOTHING. A good quick evaluation is temperature. Almost all electricity turns to heat. Touch a 100 watt bulb and you burn yourself – it is significant, uses 1 kW in 10 hours. Touch a charger – if warm, unplug. If cool, forget it, no significant loss.

        • Bob_Wallace

          “- if warm, unplug. If cool, forget it, no significant loss”

          Great rule of thumb law. Before you turn stuff on tomorrow morning check your bricks and see if you have any problems you need to deal with.


        • Steven F

          A few years ago when vampire loads were significant European and US governments passed efficiency laws governing standby loads. Now most devices consume 1Watt or less when in standby. in the past standby loads were often equal to or 50% of on loads. The only way to know for sure is to use a power monitor.

    • Freddy D

      Thank you James! And thank you Glenn for posting. Infographics are incredible tools to communicate. The top half is fantastic in educating on where home energy goes – the bottom half leads people to continue the CO2 status quo.

      Yes, the infographic was so spot on in showing where home energy goes until it got to the vampire part and it completely contradicts itself! Half of the energy goes to heating and cooling. Half. And then the infographic shows all these time-consuming actions people can fiddle with to bring down the 3% slice of the pie. Seriously. *rant over now*

      Focus on the heating/cooling part. Nothing can save more energy in a home than super-insulation or, in many cases, just improving no insulation up to current building codes. Superinsulated structures have heating and cooling loads that are close to nil.

      Some more effective alternatives if you like saving money and reducing CO2 emissions at the same time:
      1) Advocate with your local / state / national leaders for better insulation in building codes and mechanisms to require performance of buildings prior to renting or selling.
      2) If you own the structure, insulate it as much as you can. Under floor, attic, double-pane windows if not there already. improve walls, and seal air leaks. Hire a pro with the right tools. Do it right and you’ll save a fortune
      3) Make sure your space heating / cooling appliances are high efficiency. Water heating too – gas tank water heaters are terrible. Go tankless or electric tank, or better electric heat-pump tank.
      4) If you want to fiddle with your daily life, dry your clothes on a line and/or turn the thermostat down if heating (up if AC and turn on a fan).
      5) Forget about the rest of the pie slices and see 1-4 above.
      6) Live your life.

      • neroden

        I do have a noticeable heating load in my superinsulated house, but then I *do* keep the temperature at 80F when it’s -15F outside. Cozy. 🙂

        The heating load is still 1/10 what it is for other people’s houses in this town.

        If you actually superinsulate properly, closing *all* air leaks (and ideally forming a full vapor barrier), you’re going to need mechanical ventilation for fresh air. Get an ERV or HRV.

        • Freddy D

          Yes, and new codes require the ventilation you’re describing. Cozy indeed!

    • Stan Hlegeris

      James–you’re correct to note that microwave oven consumption amounts to little compared to the major appliances. At our house, however, I calculate that if we leave the microwave plugged in then fully 94% of all electricity used by that device is standby draw, with only 6% devoted to cooking. That’s just too much of a poke in the eye to tolerate. I agree with all of your points, but unplug the microwave on principle.

  • Phil

    This is interesting because a washing machine that is a top loader versus a front loader and one that heats it’s own water ( even if cold wash is selected they can do this to bring the water temp to 40 c min temp ) can be either 1kwh or 160 watt hours PER WASH !

    And if like many your large desktop replacement laptop is on except when sleeping that’s 16 x 80 watts = 1.28 kwh per day

    And a 450 liter non inverter fridge can easily use 3-4 kwh per day in summer.

    There are so many permutations depending on climates and efficiency of appliances that the only way to get an accurate snapshot is by logging your power use. And do it at the start of each season to take into account seasonal variation. You can log your house as a whole or each major appliance – take your time and make changes

    I did this and Halved my electricity consumption from 18 kwh per day down to 9kwh per day and then went off 100% grid.

    • Steve

      Phil, Congrats! Thanks for posting this. I think a lot of people will find your experience very helpful, especially the technique you used to get to where you are today. Being 100% off-grid is everybody’s dream, or at least it’s mine. When you start looking at energy storage prices, it makes you want cut that energy usage as deeply as you can.

      • Freddy D

        And if the grid serves a role of moving power around from one person’s overgenerating PV to another location that needs it at the time, perhaps it’s the most environmentally friendly means to time-shift and location-shift power production and consumption.

        • Steve

          I often thought about that. Sleep during the day and work at night. Maybe stagger the workforce operating hours to flatten the peak demands.

    • Formerly_Nom_De_Plume

      Phil, I’d be interested to hear more about your electricity usage (and Bob Wallace too) and what types of appliances you have, what kind of heating/cooling system you have, etc. My ultimate goal is to go off-grid.

      • Freddy D

        To go off grid, begin by super-insulating the structure to make that 50% half of the pie nearly disappear. If in a super cold climate, consider wood stove. Use heat pump for heat. The rest is pretty easy; LED bulbs, etc. See books on “net zero” building.

        • Bob_Wallace

          House design makes a huge difference.

          I framed with 2x6s in order to allow more insulation. House has a lot of windows on the south with enough roof overhang to keep sunshine off the windows in the summer.

          I built the dining room on the east (storm winds) side and close it off with French doors in cold weather. The north side of the living room/kitchen is buffered by the shop and garage. Connecting wall is insulated. Upstairs bedrooms are kept closed on cold days. A half hour before bedtime (on a really cold night) we’ll open the door and let some of the living room heat float in.

          Dual pane glass with heat reflecting film and argon filling.

      • Bob_Wallace

        A lot of my energy use is non-electric. We cook and heat water with propane. Heat with wood. Have no need for AC, only use a fan a half-dozen times in the summer.

        Refer is now about 15 years ago. It was the lowest 18 cu ft “normal priced” model available, a Kenmore. Inexpensive refer off the sales floor at Sears. Pulls less than 1 kWh per day, goes just over 1 kWh on the hottest days. Later I saw that two different friends who were also off the grid were using the same model.

        I bought CFLs when they were $18 each 20-something years ago. Now it’s LEDs and lights are not left on in rooms when there is no one there.

        Computers, we use netbooks connected to larger monitors. Router pulls almost no electricity but it gets turned off overnight anyway.

        I was using a boombox for radio/music but when it died I decided to use a standard stereo receiver and good speakers and live with the extra power useage. (I’m planning on adding more panels this summer since they’ve become so cheap.)

        Laundry, simple top-loader. We do laundry on sunny days because we dry on a clothesline. On sunny days we fill our batteries before the day is out so there’s no need to conserve on those days.

        Same for pumping water. On sunny days I’ll run the well pump for an hour and put about 600 gallons into a storage tank that’s further up the mountain, about 80 feet higher than the house. The house gets fed by gravity.

        If you’re off the grid, especially if you got there when solar panels were over $5 watt then effort goes into being creative. Find a way around using electricity.

        I should install a solar water heater, but my “Need to get around to it” list now runs into multiple pages.

        Just realized. My washer is about 25 years old. Still going great. Least expensive model from Sears. (Sears was our ‘least expensive’ back then.)

        Clothesline is now 15 years old. $2. I had to replace the stick that holds up the center once. Just used a tree branch that would have ended up in the stove.

        • Phil

          Bob sounds like a great setup.
          The costs have come down a lot over time.

          Some of the people where i live in Northern NSW Australia have there own peltier wheels in hilly high rainfall coutnry and generate 30kwh a day all year round 24/7

          I was lucky to come across a “scratch n dent ” solar panel sale and get my Trina Honey 250w panels for $135 each. They work 100% as the scratches are cosmetic

          And my inverters are $500 each Powerstar 7’s from china with free delivery from a local supplier and have been flawless. Never needed the backup one yet.

          The forklift batteries i use are out of India , locally supplied , and are made to the DIN world standard , so as long as they meet that spec for tubular design you are assured 2800 cycle lifetime to 80% capacity.As long as your depth of discharge averages 30% and the battery temperature is kept to 30 degrees C or less. And excessive discharges are avoided beyond 80% .I believe they are the best bang for buck battery available at this point in time based on Lithium Ion pricing , even with their extra lifecycles and higher discharge capacity.Provided they have a suitable temperature controlled home to live in of course. SO not for all.

          I used a decomissioned fully insulated 40 foot “reefer” shipping container which is incredibly thermally stable and have all the solar panels mounted on the roof. A vent pipe and sloping battery box vent the hydrogen outside. The container is also a workshop and gym and is comfortable all year round with minimal heating

          This container also takes all the wind and snow load off the house the panels create and means i can easily access and wash my panels with some mild detergent and not pollute the tank water. Or brush the snow off them

      • Phil

        Hi , that would be a pleasure

        1) Led lighting saved 1-2 kwh per day depending on the season

        2) Downsizing the fridge from a 470 to 240 litre one saved 1-3 kwh per day , again seasonal . As we were in town we shopped a few times a week anyway so the big fridge was crazy. When we entertain , or at holiday time , we used our camping fridge/s for extra cold storage.

        3) Removing the Older air con and replacing it with an inverter one with an EER and COP above 4.0 saved 10-20kwh per day in peak summer and winter

        4) The old plasma tv changed to an LED backlit one . That saved 3kwh per day

        5) Planting trees on the western side of the house saved a lot of cooling needed in summer.

        6) The hot water was LPG instantaneous , as was cooking and used
        2 x 45kg bottles per year. I never got around to installing solar hot water
        or solar panels

        7) Ditching standby sensor lights and other older appliances such as clock radios (now use battery ones) saved 1kwh per day. A full energy audit using an accurate amp/ watt meter was undertaken with anything that plugged in 24/7

        8) Replacing desktop pc’s with laptop ones saved 1kwh per day

        9) Replacing the older front load washer with a direct drive one and cold wash saved 1kwh per cycle. I had to disable the heating element on the new one as it ( at 2.2kw) came on even if cold wash was selected and the water temp was below 40 degrees celcius. Fortunately the washer logic was not affected by this and it works fine.

        I’ve since moved on from that property and replicated the same setup. But have gone 100% off grid with 4.5kw of solar panels , 12volt (6 x 2 v 1000ah) forklift wet cells , 2 x 80amp mppt charger and 3/9kw continuous/ peak inverter. The system is split into 2 and even has a spare inverter so the uptime is 99.9999%.Far more reliable than any on grid as if anything fails or needs repairs / maintenance ( apart from the batteries) you can go to half power harvest , but never lose power. The local Village here has lost power 6 times for many hours in the past 2 years due maintenance and storm damage.

        I have 80ka of surge suppression off the solar panels and have had to change one solar panel string fuse that vapourised due a lightning surge . So essential if you are in a lightning area

        Being wet cells the batteries need no battery management technology apart from adding water every 4 weeks . You can add watering kits to extend this period. When away you can dial back the charge current as your not consuming as much and only water them every 8 weeks or more.

        Power consumption averages 10kwh per day incl all round trip losses and the system floats the batteries every day for many hours so there is plenty of reserve. This past year i’ve never started the genset. The previous year was extremely wet and required 6 starts for a 4 hour run each time .

        I have a 6kva non inverter genset to run heavy appliances like welders and large air compressor.And a smaller 4.4kva inverter genset for the house , It’s auto electric start .

        As the new location is colder i use waste hardwood offcuts from the local sawmill for home heating and ceiling fans for cooling which reverse to move the hot air around in winter . All else is the same as the previous home except no air conditioner. Although i use induction cooking , electric oven and the clothes dryer (700/1400w 4kg model) as i have spare power to do this and have used more than 20kwh per day at times

        And depending on LPG costs i have the option of installing a “wet back” and water tank to the wood heater and switch over to that for hot water in the colder months . My wood heater is also an oven so that is fabulous as i’ve cooked for large groups using the oven and stove top which is much bigger than a normal oven

        The solar panels have a 5% tilt to maximise skylight in poor weather and still self clean to some extent.

        If going off grid i prefer to go with the weather by having options . Sun shining ? – go all electric , air conditioning even and dry clothes outside . Sun not shining ? , use wood heat / cook or some gas cooking and dry clothes inside . Otherwise you may need a huge battery bank and that has an upfront finance and replacement costs end of life so you have to budget for this.

        If you have no cares about budgets put in a huge system and the only thing you have to do is flick a switch. Just like on grid.

        Hope this helps.

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