Large appliances such a refrigerators and dishwashers have been improved to the point where they use 1/3rd as much energy as they did 20 years ago. However, the same cannot be said for smaller appliances, as electrical consumption in this category is growing faster than any other. Small appliances currently account for 20% of the total energy use in your home and are increasing at a rate of 5% annually. The power to run such appliances has more than doubled since 1976.
Small appliances can include those in the kitchen such as kettles, coffee makers, toasters, toaster ovens, blenders, electric frying pans, etc. However, this category gets larger as it also includes non-kitchen appliances such as lamps, vacuum cleaners, electric toothbrushes, aquariums, irons, hair dryers and more.
The main reason for the lack of progress in this category is the lack of energy standards. Large appliances can attribute their advancement in energy efficiency to standards and regulations. Small appliances have no such standards. As such, it is not uncommon for a 180-gallon aquarium to consume more energy than an energy efficient refrigerator.
Many of today’s small appliances use energy even when turned off. Up to 20% of the electricity used by appliances is lost when not in use. Anything with a digital display or that is plugged into the wall for charging would fall under appliances that “leak energy.” The average household leaks about 50 watts of electricity. If this problem were addressed by manufacturers, consumer would save more than $1 billion annually.
In the meantime, consumers can take some measures of their own to reduce energy consumption of small appliances. See our tips below.