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Common Household Items that Add Hundreds of Dollars to Energy Bills

Based on an article written in the National Geographic, here we look at some common household items that consume a surprising amount of energy, and could be adding hundreds or thousands to your yearly electricity bill.

Set-top boxes are common in most houses, sitting on or near to televisions in order to provide cable services, but when they are not in use, they are not ‘turned off’. Most modern set-top boxes function much like mini computers, communicating with remote sources to track programs and record shows even when the television is not on, and this requires large amounts of energy, and effectively means that they are constantly using a high level of power.

Noah Horowitz, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defence Council (NRDC), explained that “the issue with set-top boxes is that they never power down and they are almost always consuming their full power requirements even when you think you've turned it off.”

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In a 2010 study the NRDC calculated that the 160 million set-top boxes that exist in the US consumed the equivalent annual output of nine average coal power plants, equating to 27 billion kilowatt hours, or more than $3 billion in electricity charges.

Furnace fans help to circulate warm or cool air, depending if they are connected to a heating system or air conditioning, throughout a huuses air-duct system.

Marianne DiMascio, from ASAP, said that “there’s a major energy eater lurking in your basement. Many people don't even realize that they have a furnace fan, or have any idea how much energy it consumes.”

And although hidden away in the basement, and largely forgotten about, these fans are actually the single largest energy user in most households, double or triple that of fridges, and account for more than 12% of the average annual electricity bill.

The US Department of Energy estimates that each year 800 million portable devices of some sort are sold in the US, and many of these use outdated battery charging technologies that are massively inefficient and waste large amounts of electricity.  The DoE is working on introducing new regulations that will force manufacturers to improve the efficiency of the chargers, and DiMascio stated that “if we improve standards for these battery chargers and external power supplies we could save American consumers about $1 billion annually.”

Whilst it might be obvious that a microwave oven uses lots of energy whilst operating, they also continue to use a lot of energy when they are doing nothing. The National Geographic article makes reference to an Appliance Standards Awareness Project study which discovered that microwaves are generally only used for 70 hours a year, meaning that for the other 8,690 hours they are just sat there.

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On standby they use large amounts of energy to light the clock, but mainly to keep the button controls on standby mode. Switching them off when not in use is a great way to eliminate this waste of energy.

There are over 5 million swimming pools in the US, and that number grows by 150,000 each year. Most owners complain about the high cost of heating the pools, but actually the largest energy use is the pool pump that circulates water through the filter system to keep the pool clean, and accounts for 70% of the pools energy use.

DiMascio explained that “an average refrigerator uses around 500 kilowatt hours a year, while the average pool pump uses 3,500 kilowatt hours a year.”

By. Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com



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