Most American families have numerous entertainment appliances in their homes. They all consume electrical energy, but have you ever wondered how much? You may be surprised to learn the truth.

Every electrical appliance has a rated consumption that is measured in watts. This watt rating can be used to estimate the cost of using your appliances. But the maximum rating in watts doesn’t tell the whole story, since we don’t use most appliances continuously. To calculate the actual cost of using your appliances, you’ll need to know how many hours you use each appliance.

A typical television set, for example, consumes about 100 watts when it is operating, though smaller sets consume less and larger sets consume more. If you watch television for five hours a day, that typical set will consume about 500 watt-hours of electricity. Since electricity is always sold by the kilowatt-hour (one thousand watts for an hour, or one kWh), you’ll need to divide this number by a thousand to determine your consumption in kilowatt-hours. In this case, your five hours of television time consumed about one-half kilowatt-hour of electricity (500 watt-hours divided by 1000), or less than five cents worth at typical electrical rates. A computer and monitor usually consumes 200 to 300 watts, so the same five hours of use might cost about ten cents.

The surprise is how much energy these appliances consume when you aren’t using them. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 75% of the energy used for appliances in the typical home is consumed when the appliances are “turned off”. This power is consumed by features such as clocks and remote controls that are always operating. The U.S. Department of Energy has developed a rating system that measures how much power is consumed by idle appliances. The best way to identify the most economical appliances is to look for the Energy Star® label. This is your assurance that the appliance you purchase uses as little energy as possible both when it is in use and when it’s waiting for you to return.

See the Home Electronics page of the Energy Star® web site for more information. See *The Homeowners Handbook to Energy Efficiency* for more ways to reduce energy costs.