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Brad Goar

About "Ask the Energy Expert"

Brad Goar is the program manager for FPL's Home Energy Survey and Low Income Weatherization programs. With over 140,000 home energy surveys performed annually, FPL's Home Energy Survey is one of the largest utility run energy survey programs in the nation.

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Which home electronics use the most energy?

By Brad Goar

Asked on: October 9, 2015 by Regina, Lake Park

There is an ongoing debate in our household. Can you please share which home electronics use the most energy?

Here in Florida, your air conditioner (A/C) tops the list as the biggest energy user in your home. But, your A/C isn’t the only culprit when it comes to running up your energy cost. Here is a list of other items you might not have thought consume as much as they do, and my recommendations for cutting costs:

  1. Set-top boxes
    These handy boxes consume energy not just by conveniently displaying the time, but by communicating with the network, constantly downloading and refreshing content, and recording your favorite shows. Just two boxes can equal the energy use of a refrigerator, and that can cause your bill to increase. One solution is to see if your cable provider has “mini” boxes available, where you have just one main box and any additional boxes just route the signal from the main one. You can also request they provide you with an ENERGY STAR-rated box, if available.
  1. Battery chargers
    All our favorite mobile devices come at a cost beyond the initial purchase and monthly contract – they run on batteries and those batteries need to be recharged. Many people also have multiple devices – phone, tablet, laptop – and even multiple people using them in their homes, with the average cost of charging these devices coming in at about $15/year. Interestingly enough, however, a laptop still uses three times less power than a desktop because although the laptop needs regular charging, it is a much smaller system. To save money, try letting the sun power your devices and use a solar-powered battery charger!
  1. Sound System
    Fancy yourself a DJ of sorts? You might want to rethink your setup. A full sound system that includes a receiver and amplifier uses a staggering amount of energy annually. You may want to instead consider one of the newer portable speakers that stream music wirelessly from your phone or computer. It’s both more affordable and more convenient.
  1. Game consoles
    Gaming systems are popular among those both young and old, but they consume a surprising amount of energy. And the more advanced the systems get, the more energy the sophisticated systems require. So next time you’re in the middle of an important game and need to pause it for a little while, ask yourself if it’s really worth it. An easy way to save is to make sure that when you’re not actively using the system, you turn it off or even unplug it. It can also be quite costly to stream TV or movies through your gaming system. Try streaming them through your cable box or a more efficient streaming device that plugs into your TV.
  1. Plasma TV
    Now we’re not talking about TVs in general; this is specific to plasma screens. Did you know they consume almost six times as much energy as a comparable LCD or LED TV? The easiest way to save here is to check out your local Black Friday sales and upgrade to a more energy efficient unit, like one that’s ENERGY STAR-rated!

How to Save

  • When possible, unplug devices when you’re not actively using them. They still draw power even when in standby mode. Can’t reach the outlet easily? Try using a smart power strip. This will make it easier to switch on/off and can even be operated from your phone.
  • And, if your budget allows, take advantage of upcoming Black Friday deals and upgrade to ENERGY STAR-rated models.

Tools you can use
We’re here to help you learn how much energy you’re using, so you can find new ways to save. Here are some tools that can help:

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