The Hidden Price Tag on New Appliances

Wondering why your energy bill went up? Ask yourself - did you buy any new appliances or electronics lately?

Everything you buy that uses electricity has two price tags. The first is the one you'll pay before you walk out the door, and it might be the only one you consider before making your purchase. The second, however, is just as important. It's the energy cost, and you'll be paying it every single time the appliance uses energy - sometimes even when it appears to be switched off, also known as a "vampire load."

Non-Essentials Can Cost You

Non-essential appliances, like a second refrigerator or hot tub, can raise your electric bill significantly.

A second fridge can drive up your energy costs by more than $100 per year, according to, while the operating cost of a hot tub can be substantially more. It can save you money to do thorough research before you buy anything that uses energy.

Look for the Label

According to the FTC, manufacturers are required to place a yellow EnergyGuide label on boilers, ceiling fans, air conditioners (central, room, and portable), clothes washers, dishwashers, freezers, furnaces, heat pumps, pool heaters, refrigerators, televisions, and water heaters.

The label shows an energy use estimate based on the national average electric cost, as well as a comparison to other similar models.

Calculate the Cost Yourself

For a more accurate estimate, or to estimate the cost of appliances that don't have an EnergyGuide label, you can do some quick math.

  • Estimated number of hours you'll use the appliance per day
  • Estimated number of days you'll use the appliance per year
  • Appliance's wattage
  • Your current electric rate (check your bill)

Then find the following in order:

  1. Daily kWh consumption: Multiply wattage by hours used per day, then divide by 1,000
  2. Annual energy consumption: Multiply daily kWh consumption (step 1) by number of days used per year
  3. Annual estimated energy cost: Multiply annual energy consumption (step 2) by utility rate per kWh

Ways to Save

Getting a new appliance isn't an all-or-nothing choice - you can still shop for what you want while being energy-conscious. recommends looking for appliances with an ENERGY STAR® label. These meet strict efficiency requirements and can help you save on energy costs over other similar products. Check for the logo if you're trying to find the most bang for your buck.

Smart appliances can be more expensive up front, but can shift their electricity use automatically. This includes using less energy during high-demand hours if you're participating in our Time-of-Use program.