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How to Make the Most Energy-Intensive Large Appliances More Efficient

If you follow the Spark Energy blog you’ve learned a thing or two about energy use in your home. Like how heating and cooling your home accounts for about half of the total energy use. Climate control requires a lot of electricity, but there are some other large appliances outside of the HVAC system that use their fair share of energy. 

Which large appliances are costing you the most to operate? Below is a closer look at the energy consumption of five large appliances along with tips on how to improve their efficiency. 

Clothes Dryer

The clothes dryer is a modern-day luxury that makes laundry easier but also adds significantly to the energy bill. Minute-for-minute few electrical appliances and devices use as much energy as a clothes dryer. 

Generating enough heat to dry clothes, sheets and towels takes a lot of energy. The average clothes dryer uses 2.5-4 kWh per load. That works out to be $0.33-$0.52 per drying cycle. IGS Energy estimates it costs $115 annually to use a washer and dryer – but it could cost less.

Reduce Dryer Use

The simplest, quickest and most effective way to save energy is to use the clothes dryer less. Create a system for line drying more clothes. There are ways to do it inside if you don’t have outdoor space. You can also reduce dryer use by drying full loads only.

Adjust the Settings

There are a lot of settings adjustments that can be made to a clothes dryer to make it more energy efficient. Always use the lowest temperature setting possible, make sure the sensor is on and refrain from opening the door while the dryer is running.  

Be Mindful of What You Load

Today dryers use sensors to determine if a load of laundry is dry. All it takes is one towel or pair of jeans to throw things off and keep the dryer cycling even though everything else is bone dry. Be mindful of what you’re putting in the dryer and separate heavier materials from lighter ones. 

KEEP READING: More Ways to Increase Energy Efficiency in the Laundry Room 


Refrigeration makes up 3% of a household’s annual energy use according to the Energy Information Agency’s estimates. Refrigerators actually don’t use too much energy per hour, but unlike a clothes dryer, the refrigerator is constantly running. The problem is it could be running inefficiently. 

There are two main culprits for refrigerator inefficiencies:

The Temperature is Set Too Low

The first thing you should do is check your refrigerator’s temperature setting. If it’s set below 35-38 degrees that’s too low and can be increasing energy use by as much as 25%. 

The Refrigerator Coils Need to be Cleaned

Experts recommend cleaning refrigerator coils once a year to prevent build up. Doing so can improve energy efficiency by up to 30%. 

Water Heater

Your water heater is one of the top electricity-drawing appliances in your home. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that the water heater accounts for 20% of the average household’s annual energy use. But for some households, the energy needed for water heating is much lower than average.

Water heaters use anywhere from 12 kWh per month up to 500 kWh a month. It (mostly) all comes down to the type of water heater you have. Some instantaneous water heaters use the bare minimum electricity. On the other end of the spectrum are electric tank water heaters that use 380-500 kWh per month. 

When it’s time to replace your water heater opt for one that’s ENERGY STAR-certified, and think about investing a little extra upfront to get a tankless or instantaneous water heater. And always make sure the water heater temperature is set to 120 degrees.


The dishwasher may not run constantly, but it probably gets used on a daily basis. Doing a load of dishes uses 1–2.17 kWh. It’s a sizable range for a few reasons:

  • Some dishwashers are more energy efficient in general than others.
  • The settings vary and that makes a difference in terms of energy used. 
  • Dishwashing habits can impact efficiency and frequency of use. 

But dishwashers are more efficient than hand-washing when you factor in water use. Using the tips below can max out the energy efficiency with each load of dishes. 

  • Fully load the dishwasher. 
  • Skip the rinse cycle.
  • Don’t use the heat drying option.
  • Read the appliances manual for guidance on the most efficient programs. 

Electric Oven

Heating up the oven requires a certain amount of energy. So much energy, the oven contributes to about 3% of a household’s monthly energy use.  

Unfortunately, if you have an electric oven it isn’t as energy efficient as a gas model. The upside is there are a lot of simple ways to make electric ovens more energy efficient. 

You can save energy while cooking with the oven by using the right cookware. Pots and pans should match the size of the heating element so that energy isn’t wasted. And while it’s a good idea to load up the oven and cook multiple food items at once, you should stagger the pans so there’s maximum air flow. 

Since conserving the heat is a top priority you’ll want to use the internal light to check on food instead of opening the oven door. Chef Andrew Zimmerman told the audience of the Rachael Ray Show that opening the oven door can lower the temperature by as much as 50%. 

At Spark Energy you’ll get a detailed utility bill that helps you better understand how much energy you use and ways to increase efficiency. It’s one of the perks enjoyed by millions of Spark Energy customers across the country!

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