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The Most Power Hungry Appliances in Your Home

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For this reason, thousands of homeowners are learning how make their own solar panels and windmills (wind turbines). It is amazingly easy and doesn't require much technical knowledge. We've reviewed the best guides available on the internet and rated them. 

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When considering the use of alternative sources of energy such as wind and solar power, it is important to understand which appliances use the greatest amount of electricity.

Generally speaking, appliances that require 240 volt power require greater amounts of electricity than appliances that use 120 volt electricity. If you are wondering which appliances use 240 volt electricity, look at your circuit breaker box and see which breakers use two slots instead of one. The ones that use up two slots per switch use 240 volts of electricity. 

The following appliances typically use 240 volts of electricity, in the order of the greatest usage:

  • Electric heating systems

  • Air conditioning/Heat pump systems

  • Hot water heaters

  • Electric cook stoves 

  • Electric dryer

  • Water pumps 

If you are using a gas furnace, gas hot water heater, gas dryer and gas cook stove, those appliances will not typically require large amounts of electricity. If you are on city water, the city pays for the pumping of water so you will not have a water pump installed in your home. 

Anything that generates heat by the use of electricity alone use electricity in heavy doses. Heat pumps move heat from the outside air to the inside of the house so they don't usually generate heat unless the system is in a defrost cycle. For this reason, heat pumps are much more efficient than electric furnaces using heat strips. 

Electric dryers require amazing amounts of electricity. For an interesting exercise, go out to your electric meter and note the difference in 'spin rate' when the dryer is turned on. Then you'll understand why some people use clothes lines instead.

Gas heating systems require a small amount of electricity for running the fan and various component controls. Purchasing 100% efficient wall hung or fireplace heaters in your home might not require any electricity at all to run. 

Of the 120 volt appliances, all electric space heaters use the same amount of electricity (and in spite of all the fancy designs) all produce the same amount of heat. They usually require the most amount of electricity of any 120 volt appliance. 

This is followed by toasters, hair dryers, circular saws, microwaves, vacuum cleaners, refrigerators, and other motor powered devices such as mixers and food processors. Refrigerators and freezers are next depending on the size. The amount of power a computer requires depends on the speed of the system and whether or not an LCD monitor is used. LCD monitors use much less electricity than CRT's.

A single light bulb uses very little electricity. In fact, you could leave a 60 watt light bulb on for 30 days and it would only require $3 to $4 worth of electricity. However, when you have multiple rooms lit up, with each ceiling lamp containing 3 or more bulbs, this can add up. Fluorescent light bulbs last longer and use far less electricity, but they also contain mercury and do not give you full spectrum lighting.

To test how much electricity an item uses, you can purchase an ammeter to measure the amp draw of the appliance. You would have to find a way to place the clamp of the ammeter around one wire that feeds the appliance alone, or remove the cover of the circuit box and place the clamp of the ammeter around the wire that feeds the electricity to the appliance. 

To determine the wattage, multiply the voltage times the amp draw of the appliance. For instance, 120 volts X 3 amps would be 360 watts. Sometimes the appliance will give you the wattage on the nameplate. This can save time and effort.

The goal of learning all of this is to determine how much energy your home requires and what kind of effect it will have on your solar and wind power needs. 


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