Summary: Appliances


Appliances are often sneaky energy consumers, far less scrutinized than HVAC systems. It’s important to understand that anything that heats, cools, lights up, or moves needs energy. For the residential sector, most of that energy is supplied in the form of electricity or natural gas.

Electronics are important electricity consumers, but luckily there are easy ways to reduce energy waste from these types of devices. Notably, by reducing standby power with better policies for large scales, or by unplugging electronic devices for individuals.

Then, there are numerous energy-consuming appliances that have made their way into almost every household in developed countries, for no good reason. Dryers are the prime example, as they continue to increase household energy consumption by replacing sustainable drying methods that really don’t need replacing.

Lighting is responsible for 15% of electricity consumption and 5% of GHG emissions worldwide. Replacing current light bulbs with LED bulbs is an extremely easy way to reduce one’s footprint and electricity bill. Better policies could ensure that inefficient bulbs are swiftly replaced by LEDs.

Water heating accounts for roughly 16% of residential energy consumption in select IEA developed countries, on average. That large percentage makes sense, because everything that uses hot water in a home or building piggy backs on the water heater. To improve water heating efficiency, building operators and homeowners can check the water heater’s temperature and make sure it’s at the lowest recommended setting. Improving the insulation for the water heater tank and hot water pipes is another good option.

Governments can pass numerous policies that would effectively reduce our appliances’ impacts. Companies can also contribute by producing better quality items that use less energy and last longer. As for individuals, we can reduce our consumption by using appliances sparingly and effectively in our day-to-day lives. And most importantly, before purchasing any household appliance, we should always ask ourselves if we really need it.