In this article, I’ll talk about the amounts of energy average cell phones and other domestic appliances consume and explain how to estimate annual running costs.
It costs about $0.5 to charge a cell phone for an entire year. Devices with larger screens cost slightly more to charge annually, about $1.5 per tablet and $9 for a laptop. By contrast, the biggest home energy guzzlers, such as electric furnaces, draw almost $1.5 of energy per minute.
Please read on for a detailed breakdown of the energy costs of your favorite appliances.
Calculating Energy Costs for Individual Devices
Calculating energy costs for your appliances is a straightforward exercise. To do so, follow these simple steps:
Estimate the Number of Hours You Use a Device For
If you find it difficult to estimate precisely how long you use particular devices, you can always work with rough estimates.
For instance, if you charge a cell phone for half an hour a day, every day of the year, you could extrapolate that you charge your cell phone for 0.5 X 365 = 182.5 hours each year.
Devices such as cell phones draw relatively little power. Any under- or overestimation in your calculations is likely inconsequential.
However, with appliances that draw significant amounts of power, minor errors may alter your results significantly. In these cases, maintaining a detailed log is beneficial.
Find Out How Much Energy a Device Draws
Most manufacturers now publicly disclose the energy consumption information for their devices in Watts. You may find it in the paperwork you receive when you purchase a new device or appliance or stamped on the device itself.
You can also look up the information online. Many sites specialize in doing product comparisons and reviews. They often carry the necessary information required to make your energy use calculations.
For instance, GSMArena not only mentions the battery capacity of the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra (5000 mAh) but also separately lists the amount of energy it draws when charging over a cable (45W) or wirelessly (10W).
Calculate the Device’s Total Energy Usage
Once you’ve calculated the amount of time you use a device for and the amount of energy it draws, you can multiply the two numbers to arrive at the device’s total energy use within a given period.
Energy Drawn (Watts) X Hours Used = Total Energy Consumption in watt-hours
Finally, convert the total energy use figure you have in watt-hours into kilowatt-hours, as this is the figure that your energy company will use to calculate your energy bill prices.
Total Energy Consumption (Wh) / 1,000 = Total Energy Consumption (kWh)
Calculate the Cost of Supplying Energy to the Device
Once you have the total energy consumption of a device in kilowatt-hours, multiplying this figure with the per kilowatt-hour energy cost in your specific area will give you the total cost of supplying power to the device.
Total Energy Consumption in kilowatt-hours X Price of Electricity per kWh in Your Area = Total Cost of Supplying Energy to the Device
Average Energy Costs by Appliance
Calculating average costs for appliances used by many different users is a little more complicated and involves greater chances of inaccuracy. That’s because you need to arrive at a number that works reasonably well for all products in a category and for most users.
With every generation of new products, designers, and engineers work to improve energy efficiency, so information becomes dated very quickly.
Moreover, even within a particular product category, wide variances exist. Individual users may also use their appliances very differently.
Finally, energy prices vary from country to country and year to year. These factors make it hard to pick numbers that work for everyone everywhere.
That said, ballpark figures for low-energy consuming devices such as phones, laptops, lights, and refrigerators are within a reasonable margin of error for the vast majority of users. With more power-hungry devices, actual bills will vary widely depending on the product model and usage.
The Energy Cost of Charging Cell Phones
Although not comprehensive by any measure, recent polls suggest that most cell phone users today have phones with batteries with a charge-carrying capacity somewhere between 3,500 and 4,500 mAh.
Based on descriptions of battery charging cycles obtained elsewhere, we can assume that, on average, the average cell phone battery draws somewhere between 2 and 3 kWh of energy over an entire year.
Priced at the latest median American energy price of $0.165 per kWh, the cost of running a cell phone for a whole year is between $0.33 and $0.5.
Of course, a consumer in Hawaii (charged at $0.45) will end up paying more than one in Seattle (charged $0.118) when using the same amount of power. Similarly, consumers in other countries will have to pay the prevailing local rates in their specific jurisdictions.
However, the energy consumed over a year is so slight that it will not make a significant difference in the result.
To give you an idea of how little energy cell phone batteries and chargers consume over a year, this is about the same amount of energy it takes to run a 100-watt incandescent lightbulb for a single day!
The Energy Cost of Charging Tablets
Assuming that an average tablet uses approximately 0.03 kWh to charge and charges for roughly 300 hours a year, it uses around 0.03 X 300 = 9 kW in a year. Charged at the same median American energy rate of $0.165 per kWh, that works out to $1.485 per year.
The Energy Cost of Charging a Laptop
The average laptop uses between 0.02-0.05 kWh of energy per hour. Assuming a median rate of 0.035 and an annual usage of 1,500 hours, at $0.165 per kWh, the energy cost of running a laptop for a year runs to 0.035 X 1,500 X 0.165 = $8.66.
The Energy Cost of an Electric Fan
An average ceiling fan uses approximately 0.05 kWh of energy per hour. In contrast, a pedestal fan might only use around 0.03 kWh of energy per hour.
Taking a median energy consumption of 0.04 kWh of energy per hour, a fan used for 3,000 hours a year will cost 3,000 x 0.04 X 0.165 = $19.8 to run for the year.
The Energy Cost of an Electric Kettle
Let’s suppose a 1,500 W kettle runs for 300 hours in a year, using 1,500 X 300 / 1,000 = 450 kWh of energy annually. At the average American consumer’s energy price ($0.165), the cost of running an electric kettle for a year works out to 450 X 0.0165 = $74.25.
The Energy Cost of an Air Conditioner
With devices like air conditioners calculating an average annual energy cost is a little trickier. For one, air conditioners come in various sizes, shapes, and forms and have very different energy efficiency rates between models.
For instance, a small portable air conditioner will have vastly lower energy requirements compared to the central air conditioner of a sizeable independent home.
An 8kbTu 12-EER-rated window air conditioner will only draw 0.75 kWh of energy per hour, working out to about 0.75 X 0.165 = $0.12375 an hour.
At the same time, a 3-ton central HVAC unit with a similar energy efficiency rating can draw as much as 3 kWh an hour, which works out to an energy expenditure of $0.5 an hour—more than three times the cost of running the smaller unit.
Over hundreds of hours of use, the difference in the running costs of the two air conditioning systems will be significant. For such types of devices, it is best to calculate using your specific unit and usage pattern.
If you’ve already had the unit installed in your home for some time, you can also look at your energy bills for the months that you first use an air-conditioner. Note the month-to-month difference between the months where you use the device and those where you don’t.
The Energy Cost of an Electric Furnace
Heating solutions tend to be even bigger energy guzzlers than air conditioners. An electric furnace, for instance, uses as much as 10.5 kWh of energy per hour. At $0.165, that adds approximately $1.73 to your energy bill each hour.
The Energy Cost of a Water Heater
Electric water heaters use between 380 and 500 kWh of energy a month. A median value of 440 kWh a month works out to 440 X 12 = 5,280 kWh a year. Priced at $0.165, the cost of running an average water heater for 12 months is 0.165 X 5,280 = $871.2 a year.
Thus, the costs of running a water heater are among the largest contributors to your annual electricity bill.
The Energy Cost of an Oven
An oven uses approximately 2.3 kWh of energy an hour. At $0.165 a kWh, running an oven for an hour will cost you $0.38 an hour. If you use such an oven for 200 hours in a year, it will add $76 to your annual energy bill.
The Energy Cost of a Dishwasher
A dishwasher running a normal cycle with only cold water will use around 2kWh of energy per hour. At $0.165 a kWh, running a dishwasher on a regular cycle with cold water will cost $.33 an hour. Running a dishwasher with warm water will cost even more.
The Energy Cost of a Refrigerator
A 15 cubic foot (0.425 cubic meters) frost-free refrigerator draws about 150 kWh per month, or 1800 kWh a year. It would cost 1,800 X 0.165 = $297 to run such a refrigerator a year. A smaller or more energy-efficient unit may cost less.
The Energy Cost of a TV
Like air conditioners, TVs vary quite a bit from model to model. They come in different resolutions and screen sizes and are based on various technologies. These differences can significantly impact the energy needs of a particular TV set.
For instance, a 24-inch (60.96 cm) HDTV may need only 0.014 kWh per hour, whereas a 50-inch (127 cm) 4K LED TV may draw as much as 0.12 kWh per hour.
However, even if you run the 4K TV for a thousand hours over the year, it will only cost you $12 over the entire year. The difference in energy draw between the two models is entirely negligible.
Energy Costs of Different Household Appliances Compared
Having looked at the energy costs of running various common household appliances, we can now compare the energy requirements of these devices and make a note of which ones require the most energy to run.
The table below lists the energy requirements for each device discussed above in easily comparable terms:
|Cell Phone||Under $0.5 a year|
|Tablet||Under $ 1.5 a year|
|Laptop||Under $10 a year|
|Electric Fan||Under $20 a year|
|Electric Kettle||Under $75 a year|
|Air Conditioner (3-ton Central HVAC unit)||$0.5 an hour|
|Electric Furnace||$1.73 an hour|
|Water Heater||$871 a year|
|Oven||$0.38 an hour|
|Dishwasher||$0.33 an hour|
|Refrigerator||Under $300 a year|
|TV||Under $12 a year|
The Biggest Energy Guzzlers in Your Home
The above table confirms that the following devices consume very little energy:
- Home entertainment systems
- Everyday home features such as electric fans
For this reason, they cost very little to run.
On the other hand, small and medium-sized kitchen appliances consume considerably more energy. These include:
- Electric kettles
Bigger appliances, such as refrigerators, that run for many more hours consume even more energy than smaller kitchen appliances like kettles and ovens.
However, by far, the biggest energy guzzlers in the average American home are:
- Electric furnaces
- Water heaters
- Air conditioners
Everyday electronic items like cell phones, tablets, and laptops consume very little energy. Even over extended periods, they cost very little to run. For instance, a single cell phone, a tablet, and a laptop should take less than $12 to keep running all year.
By contrast, most household items consume more energy. And heating and cooling solutions, which are among the largest energy consumers in the average home, can cost as much to run for an hour as a cell phone does to charge over an entire year.
Thanks for reading!
Hey, I’m Jim, and I’m the author of this website. I have been teaching people a wide variety of survivalism topics for over five years and have a lifetime of experience fishing, camping, general survivalism, and anything in nature. In fact, while growing up, I spent more time on the water than on land! I am also a best-selling author and have a degree in History, Anthropology, and Music. I hope you find value in the articles on this website. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or input!