If you were to make a chart of the electricity-consuming devices in a typical home and rank them in order of their hunger for power, the list might look something like this:

Cost per
Heat pump or central air15,000 watts$1.50
Water heater or clothes drier 4,000 watts40 cents
Water pump3,000 watts30 cents
Space heater1,500 watts15 cents
Hair drier1,200 watts12 cents
Electric range burner1,000 watts10 cents
Refrigerator 1,000 watts10 cents
Computer and monitor400 watts4 cents
light bulb60 watts0.6 cents

This table assumes that a kilowatt-hour of electricity costs 10 cents, which is an average rate depending on your location.

If your house has electric heat, then the middle of winter is a time when you are going to use a lot of power. A heat pump might run 10 to 15 hours a day. At $1.50 an hour that's $15 to $22 per day. Over the course of a month that's several hundred dollars worth of electricity. The same applies in the summer if you use the air conditioner a lot.

Water heating uses a good bit of power as well. When you take a shower or run a load of clothes in the washer, the electric water heater might run for an hour re-heating the water in the tank. That's 40 cents. A typical household can burn several dollars a day heating water. Because we don't normally think of it this way, it is funny to consider that every shower you take costs 40 cents! When you add in the cost of washing and drying the towels (every load of clothes that you run might cost $1 to $2 for washing and drying) plus the soap and shampoo, it can cost nearly a buck to take a shower!

Refrigeration is another big power drain because the refrigerator can easily run for 10 hours a day. That's about $1 per day to keep the milk cold. If you leave the computer or TV on all day it can add up to $1 per day as well.

Then we get to to light bulbs. At 0.6 cents per hour it doesn't seem like much. However, many fixtures contain 2 or more bulbs and it is easy to leave several fixtures on. If 10 bulbs are burning that's 6 cents an hour. If they burn for 6 hours a day that 36 cents per day for lighting. Multiply that by 30 days in a month and it's $10 per month for photons.

Using a space heater or an electric blanket to heat a smaller area at night is probably the easiest way to save big on your power bill. Saving hot water is the next easiest.

Several interesting links: