how to invest


career, food, travel


saving, credit, debt


insurance, security


401K, IRA, FI, Retire

Home » Eco-Friendly Savings

How Much Electricity Costs to Power Household Devices & How to Cut Use

Last updated by on January 17, 2016

“Micromanaging” has a certain negative connotation due to its application in a work environment.

When it comes to budgeting, however, micromanagement should be embraced (don’t let anyone tell you otherwise).

Any time you are able to not only save yourself some money, but also reduce your negative impact on the planet, that’s a beautiful thing.

One of the areas you can do this with is your household electricity consumption.

I decided to do a little experiment around my house with all of my electricity powered devices and share my findings on their electricity usage with you. My main goal was to find out how much electricity I was wasting and cut that down as much as possible.

How Much Does Electricity Cost for Common Household Devices?

For a long time, I have had a pretty general idea of what my electricity bill has been.

Outside of July and August, when the electricity cost of air conditioning inflates my bill (muggy Michigan summers), a typical month for me is right around $50.

I’ve done a lot of things to keep my electricity cost down, which include:

  • every bulb in the house is a CFL or LED.
  • I unplug devices I rarely use.
  • I keep lights turned off when I’m not in the room and during daylight hours.
  • I turn my desktop computer off when I’m not using it.

But I’ve always thought that I could do more.

The problem was that I had no idea how much electricity cost each household device was generating.

I had some nagging questions that I wanted answers for:

  1. does it cost anything to leave a phone charger plugged in?
  2. what about a laptop charger?
  3. how much electricity does my desktop computer use in sleep mode vs. awake mode vs. off?
  4. how much electricity does my DVR use in sleep mode vs. awake vs. off?
  5. is my TV sucking up energy when turned off?
  6. which of my appliances are using standby power?

I found answers to all of these questions and a few added surprises…

how much electricity cost

Electricity Monitoring Device Use

In order to do this test, you will need an electricity monitoring device. There is no getting around that.

Hopefully you can learn from my tests, but your personal devices may vary. In other words, there is little universality in electric use. If you want exact numbers for your situation, you will need to get an electricity monitoring device of your own.

electricity monitorThere is one reputable device on the market with great reviews:

P3 International Kill-A-Watt Electricity Usage Monitor: $19.99 (qualifies for free super saver shipping). Kill-A-Watt calculates volt, watt, amp, hz, kwh, and expenses per day, week, month, and year.

Electricity Use Per Device Test Results

The following data is the result of my tests. Note that I used $0.15 per kWh for my calculations. Your cost may vary per your utility company (the Belkin allows you to customize).

Also note that there are, in many cases, multiple tests for each device based on how it may be used (i.e. laptop fully charged vs. charging).

Data shown is in the format of: device tested: watts drawn, $ to power per year, CO2 emissions per year (in lbs.), and lessons specific to each. I did not test things that I used very randomly and for a specific purpose (i.e. an engaged blender or toaster), rather my goal was to find where electricity was being wasted by keeping things plugged in.

  • CFL bulb lamp, off (40W):     0W    $0.00    0 lbs. – there is no need to unplug lamps.
  • CFL bulb lamp, on (40W):    41.8W    $54.17    442 lbs. –  I am surprised even CFL’s use this much electricity. Turn your lights off when you don’t need them on.
  • Macbook, charger-only:     0W    $0.00    0 lbs. – this is not universal on chargers. Gave me a sigh of relief though, b/c I always leave it plugged in.
  • Macbook, charging engaged:    60w   $77.76    650 lbs.
  • Macbook, charging closed:    44.7W    $57.93    473 lbs. – not much difference between engaged and closed, when charging.
  • Macbook fully charged, closed:    0W   $0.00    0 lbs. – good to know that the adapter shuts down when a Mac is fully charged.
  • Macbook fully charged, engaged:    28W   $36.29.00    144 lbs. – not as low as expected.
  • Acer laptop, charger-only:    1.1W    $1.43    11.6 lbs. – it’s not much to keep it plugged in, but it’s still wasteful.
  • Acer laptop, charging engaged:    43W    $55.73    440 lbs.
  • Acer laptop, charging closed:    17W    $22.03    190 lbs.
  • Acer laptop, fully charged, engaged:    24W    $31.10    240 lbs.
  • Samsung smartphone, charger-only:    0W    $0.00    0 lbs.
  • Samsung smartphone charging:    6W    $7.78    57 lbs. – this is much cheaper than expected.
  • Samsung smartphone charged:    1.7W    $2.20    17.2 lbs. – also much cheaper than expected.
  • 0.5W LED nightlight:    0W    $0.00    0 lbs. – my LED nightlight for my bathroom uses so little electricity, it doesn’t register on the energy monitor.
  • Black & Decker toaster, not engaged:    0W    $0.00    0 lbs.
  • KitchenAid Blender, not engaged:    1.5W    $1.94    16.8 lbs. – surprising in that my toaster does not use any energy when plugged in. Will keep unplugged. $1.94/yr. saved.
  • Vizio 42″ LCD TV, off:      0W    $0.00    0 lbs. – my TV uses so little energy when turned off, it does not register. Surprising, and I’m thankful.
  • Vizio 42″ LCD TV, on:    230W    $298.08    2425 lbs. – wow, talk about an energy hog.
  • Comcast DVR, on:    32.4W    $41.99    345 lbs.
  • Comcast DVR, off:    31.2W    $40.44    330 lbs. – this was the surprise of this test. A Motorola Comcast DVR uses as much energy when turned off as it does on.
  • Sony BluRay, off :   1W    $1.30    10.7 lbs.
  • Sony BluRay, on:    16W    $20.74    172 lbs. – I had been leaving this on b/c it is so slow to start up. Not anymore. $20/yr. saved.
  • Super Nintendo, off:    0.7W    $0.91    7.4 lbs. – awesome that this is the only gaming system listed, no?
  • Super Nintendo, on:    6.6W    $8.55    71 lbs. – wow, an energy sipper.
  • Printer, off:    2.6W    $3.37    27.1 lbs. – another surprise. I will be unplugging. $3.37/yr. saved.
  • Printer, on, not in use:    5.9W    $7.65    63 lbs.
  • Cordless phone base, w/phone:    1.6W    $2.07    17.2 lbs. – very cheap!
  • Cordless phone base, w/o phone:    0.9W    $1.17    10.2 lbs. – very cheap!
  • Paper Shredder, plugged in, off:    0W    $0.00    0 lbs.
  • Acer Desktop Computer, off:    1.7W    $2.20    18.6 lbs.
  • Acer Desktop computer, on, awake:    45W    $58.32    475 lbs.
  • Acer desktop computer, on, sleep:    3.3W    $4.28    35.5 lbs. – I can’t believe how cheap my desktop on while asleep. Only $2 per year vs. off!
  • Acer 20″ LCD monitor, off:    0W    $0.00    0 lbs.
  • Acer 20″ LCD monitor on, awake:    23.5    $30.46    250 lbs.
  • Acer 20″ LCD monitor on, sleep:    0W    $0.00    0 lbs. – just as the TV, a big surprise.
  • Ooma VOIP device, on:    6.6W    $8.55    70 lbs.
  • Netgear wireless router/modem, on:    7.8W    $10.11    83.6 lbs.
  • LED Alarm Clock:    1.6W    $2.07    16.8 lbs. – cheap! Might as well put the phone away unless you want to declutter.
  • Refrigerator, closed (no light) and not running:    0W    $0.00    0 lbs.
  • Refrigerator, open with light on, not running:    41.7W    $54.75    442 lbs. – that little light in the fridge is not cheap.
  • Refrigerator, closed (no light), running:    155W    $206.00    1808 lbs. – this highlights the importance of a good fridge and keeping the fridge door shut.

Here are some general learnings on electricity costs from the above results:

  • No need to unplug lamps, but even CFL’s are not cheap to keep on. Turn off the lights when you leave the room! Despite their improvements, light bulbs are still one of the biggest electricity vampires. LED’s are a beautiful thing.
  • Change the setting in your computer to have a 3 or 5 minute sleep mode delay versus 30 minutes or never. This could save you dozens of $’s per year.
  • If you don’t have your DVR set to record shows, unplug it. It could save you $40+ per year vs. just turning it off!
  • Some chargers left plugged in drain energy, but most don’t. If they do, it is not much. Better to not be wasteful though.
  • I was not expecting to find my blender using energy when not in use. You never know which appliances are vampires. Better to test and have definitive answers than always wonder and feel doubt or even guilt.
  • DVR’s are never really “off”. My DVR essentially adds another $4 to my cost of cable every month.
  • Perhaps the most important lesson of all: electricity is still incredibly cheap and incredibly polluting. To think that just $1 of electricity costs equates to about 7.5 lbs. of CO2 emissions is disgusting. If there is any hope for this planet, it lies with solar and other renewable energies.

I estimate that the changes I will make from these learning’s will save me about $75 per year on electricity costs at the $0.15 kWh price. That’s more than 10% of my entire electric bill. As the cost of electricity increases (and it will) that $ amount will only go up every year. I more than made my $30 investment in the Belkin energy monitor back in just the first year, and after I let all of my friends and family borrow it, I can sell it.

Update: It looks like this one little device ended up saving me 22% per month in electricity costs!

If this topic interests you, check out my entire series on eco-friendly cost savings.

Electricity Cost Discussion:

  • Which of these findings surprise you?
  • How much is your monthly electricity bill, on average?
  • Have you run an experiment like this? What were your findings?

Related Posts:

About the Author
I am G.E. Miller, & this is my story. My goal is financial independence ASAP. If you share that goal, join me & 10,000+ others by getting FREE email updates. You can also explore every post I have written, in order.

  • Dave says:

    A Kill-A-Watt is a terrific investment. If you follow up on your findings with some minor changes in your daily habits and routines you’ll make up the $20 cost of the unit in no time, all with the satisfaction of reducing your CO2 emissions.

  • Jesse says:

    When you mentioned a 40W CFL, are you talking about a 40W equivalent (~9w actual) or a CFL that actually is rated to use 40w (with a 150-200 watt equivalent output)?

    • G.E. Miller says:

      Rated to use 40W, which is approximately how much it was drawing.

      • BG says:

        Man, that must be one bright light! I typically use the 65w equivalent CFL bulbs, which use 13w if I remember correctly.

        As for the Co2 emissions, you just breathing (like a comma patient) is dumping 2.3 pounds of Co2 per day (69 pounds a month) into the environment. So, plant some trees to offset yourself.


        • G.E. Miller says:

          Wow, I had no idea just breathing had that much impact! I’ll hold my breath more often =)
          How much CO2 per year does a tree offset and do you know of any charitable organizations that plant trees per your donation?

          • Al says:

            Thanks for your article, I came across it on a google search to find out how much street lights cost to run. I’m in the UK and have just joined a community tree nursery as a volunteer set up by a District Council using money from developers. We are collecting seed from local native trees (especially the rare ones) growing them and planting them in any parishes that have the space, as well as on the new housing estates and green spaces. I hope the idea catches on. I don’t know if they are able to receive donations, but maybe you have one near you?

        • Alex says:

          This is 3 years too late, and I’m not even sure if the comment was joking, but I feel that I should point out for the record:
          CO2 that people/animals exhale is essentially the same CO2 that was taken in by the plants that they ate, or the plants that the animals that they ate, ate. It represents to net CO2 accumulation in the atmosphere, and never was, is not, and (**should**) never be the target of emissions reductions. The same is true about burning wood for heat, which releases CO2 that was exactly offset by the CO2 that the tree took in in the past few decades.
          There is a world of difference between animals exhaling and burning fossil fuels. Hydrocarbon fuels contain carbon (dioxide) that has been in the ground for millions of years, whose absence the Earth’s atmosphere has has since adjusted for, and fallen into a steady-state – it is CO2 that is not supposed to be in the atmosphere; whereas what we exhale has already been offset, because it was taken out of the atmosphere as the plants were growing (that says nothing about the large amount of fossil fuels that are used in commercial agriculture, but that is another issue entirely).

  • Jesse says:

    Here’s a tip to save on energy bills, specifically for those who do not have gas in their homes (like me).

    Changing your shower head to a low flow head not only lowers your water bill but also your electricity bill. Unless you take stone cold showers, a good portion of the water you use comes from your water heater, which is powered by electricity. I can’t really measure how much power it’s using but I’d imagine it’s enough to make an impact on your bill, especially if you take long, hot showers or have multiple people living with you.

    I’ve had great results using an Alsons 655CBX Fluidics head that gives good pressure while only using 1.6gpm because it aerates the stream.

  • Natalie H says:

    I bought a kill-a-watt recently and tested everything in my house. My biggest surprises were how much my entertainment center cost ($30/month) and how little my fridge ($6/mo) and deep freezer ($1.50/mo) cost. We have 2 desktop computers which cost about $10/mo each to run (including all accessories and monitor).

    I like to fall asleep watching nature shows, so the entertainment center was frequently left on all night. I purchased a timer to automatically turn it off and I’ve already noticed a difference in the monthly bill.

    Some other interesting ones I found:

    1 cycle of bread machine: 5 cents
    lights for 4 ft Christmas tree: $1/mo

    My electricity costs $0.12 per kwh. All dollar amounts are based on running 24/7 unless otherwise stated.

  • James Bialek says:

    Great post! Thanks for sharing your findings.

    It might be a bit extreme but here’s my solution to idle electricity:


    In my apartment, the breaker box is right next to the door. I hit all the breakers except for the fridge when I leave. Except for the occasional cycle of the fridge, the electric meter ain’t spinnin’! It’s a very cool thing.

    I know what you’re thinking: “Ohhhh…but I’ll have all those blinking 12:00s on my blah, blah, blah!” Yeah, well GET RID of those things. I don’t have a SINGLE ONE! SIMPLIFY your lives, save money, and be happier.

    • Mike says:

      Make sure you don’t have a desktop computer shutdown or hibernated (not asleep which typically requires small amount of power) if you do this. It won’t take many times doing that before you end up with an unbootable system.

  • Peter says:

    I’m pretty much floored by the results of your testing! I has to admit I had a cognitive dissonance on things like computers left on and printers on idle etc… I knew they were wasting energy but didn’t quite think that much and that it wasn’t making a very big difference on my bill. What blew me away though were the results from a those appliances supposedly off that turned out to be silent energy hogs. Thanks for the eye opening research.

  • Kim says:

    Thanks for the info. It is an eye opener for me. I noticed that you didn’t mention the energy used for the washer and dryer.

  • Ron Ablang says:

    Oh I love saving money on electricity. Good article.

  • John says:

    Your Heat and AC are the biggest culprits. Appliances dont consume much alone but together can be pretty costly. There are mobile apps available that will allow you to calculate the costs of running appliances over certain periods of time.

  • Jessica says:

    You only have acer laptops but what about an older HP Laptop thats about 3-5 years old that has to charge 24/7 just to stay on? would that also be just as costly?

  • Julie says:

    Great Post! Thanks for time testing and posting your findings!

  • Nick says:

    I know this is an old post, but I thought I’d leave a tip anyway. For most fridge lights, you can replace the bulb with a very low wattage LED bulb. This will save on the light being on itself, and it produces next to no heat so it’ll save on the cooling cost too.

    Those little standard bulbs get hot and the fridge has to cool them off, there’s a cost to that.

  • Powah Usah says:

    I’m an almost-40 something. I do have a bit of advice. Plugging and unplugging a device frequently (like the blender) can ruin the wall outlet. I assume you use the blender frequently. Replacing the wall outlet will cost you more than you’re spending leaving the blender plugged up. Of course, if you have a strip in the wall where your blender is, no problem. I also discovered I was breaking one of my lamps by constantly pushing the on-off button. I switched the lamp to the outlet controlled by the flip switch on the wall. I haven’t had a problem since.

  • gregh says:

    People really want to save the planet . Lighting accounts for a very small part of your electric consumption. Fridge ,dryer electric stove, clothes washer, furnace/ ac blower are the biggest {vampires} many people have multiple fridges and a deep freeze as well. lighting in a typical home with 40-60 watt incandescent bulbs should be $11.00-$14.00 of your total monthly consumption. You might save your self $4.00 each month with cfl for all of the other tiny {phantom} power drawn from devices , this is so miniscule . Those who are so concerned with co2 emissions must realize driving suvs with 300+ horsepower is pumps out thousand times the co2 that all of your devices and lights combined for a decade. Lets not forget to mention the annual trip to Mexico or Europe. Did you know that one trans Atlantic flight is worth 50 years of driving per passenger? A plane burns a tremendous amount of fuel just taking off and climbing to cruising altitude, not to mention maintaining an airspeed of 800 kmh for 14 hours. Lets focus on the actual significant sources of co2 . I hate cfl bulbs ,they emit a lousy quality and hue of light-so dreadful like a service station restroom would have. Led is somewhat better , still room for improvement. We use incandescent or halogen only. Most are on dimmers ,for asthetics more than saving a few bucks. we have a large enough stock to last 25-30 years. We also drive a Honda Civic and have used a push reel mower for 24 years which makes our carbon footprint a lot smaller than most , even with use of incandescent bulbs.

  • gregh says:

    As far as the comment by Natalie H, fridge-$6.00 month, deepfreeze $1.60 a month? bread machine 5 cents per cycle? I would assume there was some sort of error while performing the test or calculating. Most modern fridges will typically cost $13.00-$18.00 a month to run. Remember, a great portion of your utility bill comes in fees. administration fee, network fee existing network fee, rider fee, modification fee……Most people seem to think their bill went down significantly due to something they changed, usually though it can be explained by fluctuations in fee charges.

  • hunter says:

    I didn’t see anything about a toaster on here, does anyone know how much electricity an toaster takes up a day?


Enter your:

Home | Sitemap | Terms | ©