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Facts and Tips

​In one year, according to one recent estimate, the average home uses 38 percent of its energy on heating, 19 percent on hot water, 21 percent on major appliances, 15 percent on other appliances and 7 percent for lighting. How much energy do different appliances use? Check out these energy cost calculators.


  • A full freezer is more energy efficient than a partially full freezer. If your freezer isn't full, add old milk jugs filled with water to take up empty space.
  • Insulating your water heater, particularly heaters made before 1992, will reduce the heat lost through the walls of the tank by 25-40 percent.
  • For every 10 degree you lower the temperature of your hot water header, you reduce the heater's energy consumption by 3-5 percent.
  • Most of the energy used by a washing machine comes from heating the water, and one full load uses less energy than two small loads. Set washer loads for "warm" or "cold" wash instead of hot, and only run full loads.
  • Automatic clothes driers with moisture-sensor cutoffs or temperature-sensor cutoffs use 10 to 15 percent less energy than driers with timers.
  • Televisions and many other appliances use energy and cost you money even when you aren't using them. Any appliance with "convenience features" (like instant-on) is drawing power while it is turned off. "Leaking electricity" costs the average U.S. house 50 watts of electricity continuously.
  • Direct current transformers (those little black boxes that plug into the wall outlet) that recharge your cordless phone, hand-held vacuum, answering machine and electric toothbrush draw 2-6 watts of power, even after the appliance is fully charged.
  • Flat screen monitors use only one-third the power of conventional monitors.
    Computers and monitors in sleep mode and screensaver mode are still consuming as much electricity as they do when they're in use.
  • A heat-reflecting filter can be mixed into paint and painted on walls that will keep warmth in during winter and warmth out during summer.


  • A heavy coat of dust on a light bulb can block up to half of the light.
  • Across America, home refrigerators use the electricity of 25 large power plants every year.
  • A hot water faucet that leaks one drop per second can add up to 165 gallons a month. That's more than one person uses in two weeks.
  • An energy-smart clothes washer can save more water in one year than one person drinks in an entire lifetime!
  • Only 10 percent of the electricity used by an incandescent light bulb is turned into light. The other 90 percent is wasted as heat. A compact fluorescent light bulb uses 75 percent less energy than a regular bulb—and it can last up to four years.
  • A crack as small as 1/16th of an inch around a window frame can let in as much cold air as leaving the window open three inches!
  • An automatic dishwasher uses less hot water than doing dishes by hand—an average of six gallons less, or more than 2,000 gallons per year.
  • Opening the refrigerator door releases up to 30 percent of the cold air inside.
  • Every year, more than $13 billion worth of energy leaks from houses through small holes and cracks. That's more than $150 per family!


  • Recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to run a television for three hours—Reynolds Metals Co.
  • Americans throw away enough aluminum to rebuild an entire commercial air fleet four times every year—Reynolds Metals Co.
  • Recycled paper generates 95 percent less air pollution than virgin paper: each ton of recycled paper saves 60 lbs. of air pollution—Center for Ecological Technology.
  • Recycling one glass container saves enough energy to light a 100-watt bulb for four hours—Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • One ton of glass made from 50 percent recycled materials saves 250 pounds of mining waste—EPA
  • Every ton of paper that is recycled saves 17 trees and 7,000 gallons of water—EPA
  • Recycled glass generates 20 percent less air pollution and 50 percent less water pollution—NASA
  • According to Penn State University, if Americans recycled every plastic bottle they used, American landfills would be spared 2 billion tons of plastic—Penn State University

Making paper uses more water per ton than any other product in the world—Worldwatch Institute