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Which Appliances Consume the Most Energy

Which Appliances Consume the Most Energy


Electricity is indispensable in Indian households today, with a wide range of appliances relied upon for daily activities. However, India faces challenges in ensuring an uninterrupted, affordable, and sustainable power supply to meet the country’s growing energy demand.

The residential sector accounts for a sizable portion of India’s total electricity consumption. As incomes rise and appliances become more affordable, electricity usage in households is increasing rapidly. Studies indicate that electricity demand in the residential sector could quadruple between 2011–12 and 2030–31.

Understanding which appliances consume the most electricity is important for consumers to optimise their usage and reduce their energy bills. It also provides insights into how India can meet its rising electricity demand sustainably through measures like energy efficiency and demand-side management.

This article delves into the major electricity guzzlers in Indian households and offers tips to manage consumption efficiently. With judicious use of appliances and by making small changes to daily habits, significant savings can be achieved. Every unit of electricity conserved helps ease the pressure on India’s fragile electricity grid.


Major Electricity-Consuming Appliances

Other major appliances


When it comes to major electricity-consuming appliances in Indian households, four categories stand out air conditioners, refrigerators, water heaters, and washing machines. Understanding the power consumption patterns of these appliances can provide useful insights into managing overall electricity usage efficiently.

Air Conditioners

Air conditioners are one of the most power-hungry appliances in Indian homes, especially during the hot summer months. A 1.5-tonne split AC running for 8–10 hours daily can consume anywhere from 300 to 600 units of electricity per month. High-end inverter ACs are more energy-efficient, but their consumption is still significant. Proper servicing, keeping filters clean, avoiding direct sunlight on the outdoor unit, and setting the thermostat at an optimal temperature can help reduce the power usage of ACs.


Refrigerators need to run 24×7 to preserve food and, hence, have high consumption even when the usage is optimal. A 300-litre 2-star refrigerator may use around 45–50 units per month. Usage can be optimized by setting the right temperature, allowing sufficient ventilation, avoiding frequent opening of doors, regular cleaning of condenser coils, and ensuring door seals are intact. Choosing inverter compressors with higher star ratings during purchase also helps in the long run.

Water Heaters

Electric water heaters, especially storage-type heaters, can be major power guzzlers. A 15-litre, 2000-watt geyser running for 1 hour daily can consume around 30 units per month. Using BEE-certified heaters, setting thermostats correctly, opting for solar water heaters, using timers, and avoiding the simultaneous operation of multiple heaters can significantly reduce consumption.

Washing Machines

Fully automatic washing machines consume 35–40 units monthly for a family of four members. Higher-rated machines may consume more. Optimised use by running full loads, using correct wash programmes, avoiding extra rinse cycles, etc. can curb excess usage. Semi-automatic top-load washing machines consume much less power.

Tracking the consumption patterns of these major appliances provides a good starting point for analysing and optimising electricity usage in Indian households.


Air Conditioners

Image of air conditioner


Air conditioners (ACs) are one of the biggest contributors to electricity consumption in Indian households, especially in the summer months. With rising temperatures, ACs have become a necessity rather than a luxury for many families.

The prevalence of ACs in Indian households has increased rapidly over the past decade. Higher incomes, affordable prices, and power availability have enabled more middle-class families to install ACs in their homes. Studies estimate that over 30% of urban households now have at least one AC unit.

Several factors affect an AC’s electricity usage

Size of the AC – Larger capacity ACs (1.5 tonnes or higher) consume more electricity than smaller units.

Age of the AC – Older ACs tend to use more energy as their components become less efficient over time. New ACs with inverter compressors are more energy-efficient.

Temperature setting – Lower temperature settings increase electricity consumption. Setting the AC at 24–25 °C is optimal.

Maintenance – Poor maintenance, like low refrigerant levels, dirty filters, etc., reduces energy efficiency. Regular servicing improves performance.

Usage time – Running the AC all day uses more electricity than using it for just a few hours.

Here are some tips to reduce AC electricity consumption

  • Choose the right-sized AC for the room area to avoid waste.
  • Use energy-efficient ACs with higher BEE star ratings.
  • Set the temperature at 24–25 °C and use sleep mode or timers to run the AC only when needed.
  • Install the AC unit in a shaded spot, and keep doors and windows closed when running it.
  • Clean the air filter every 2 weeks and get annual maintenance done.
  • Use ceiling fans to complement the AC cooling.
  • Install smart plugs to remotely control the AC and track energy usage.

With careful usage and maintenance, Indian households can reduce the energy consumed by ACs without compromising on comfort or convenience.



Image of refrigerator


Refrigerators are one of the most widely used home appliances in India, with ownership rates rising steadily over the past decade. Recent surveys estimate that over 65% of urban Indian households and around 35% of rural households own a refrigerator. With greater affordability and electricity access enabling more families to purchase refrigerators, their electricity consumption impact is significant.

The typical electricity consumption of a refrigerator ranges from 100 to 300 units per month, depending on size, age, and usage patterns. A regular 300-litre double-door refrigerator consumes around 1.5 units per day or 45 units per month. Newer inverter compressor refrigerators are typically more energy efficient, consuming 20–30% less energy than conventional models. Older refrigerators lacking modern efficiency features can consume over 60 units per month.

There are several ways refrigerator electricity consumption can be optimized-

  • Choose an appropriately sized refrigerator for your needs to avoid the wasteful cooling of unused space. A bachelor may only need a 100-litre refrigerator.
  • When buying a new refrigerator, look for the latest BEE 5-star-rated energy-efficient models. These use less electricity while providing the same cooling performance.
  • Place the refrigerator away from heat sources like stoves or direct sunlight, and ensure sufficient air ventilation behind it. This reduces the workload for cooling.
  • Set the thermostat to optimal temperature settings between 4°C and 5°C for the freezer and 0°C and 4°C for the main compartment. Lower settings waste electricity.
  • Regularly defrost the freezer to prevent ice buildup, which makes the compressor work harder.
  • Ensure door seals are intact. Leaky seals make the refrigerator run longer to maintain the desired temperature.
  • Avoid putting hot foods in the refrigerator. Let them cool down first to reduce icing and electricity usage.
  • Reduce door opening frequency and duration to prevent loss of cold air.

With some diligence and care, significant refrigerator electricity savings can be achieved in Indian homes without compromising on food preservation.


Water Heaters

Image of water heater


Water heaters are one of the major electricity-consuming appliances in Indian households. Traditionally, electric water heaters have been more popular than gas water heaters in India due to their ease of installation and lower upfront costs. However, with rising electricity prices, gas water heaters are becoming more common.

Electric water heaters consume a significant amount of power during peak usage times in the morning and evening, when most family members need to shower. Gas water heaters provide hot water on demand without needing to constantly heat a tank of water. This makes them more energy efficient overall.

When purchasing a new water heater, look for energy-efficient models certified by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency. Electric water heaters should have a BEE rating of 5 stars, while gas water heaters should have a rating of 4 stars or more. Insulating the hot water pipes also helps reduce standby losses and increases efficiency.

With some planning, water heater usage can be optimised to avoid peak electricity usage. For instance, heating water early in the morning or late in the evening and using a timer can shift the load away from peak hours and reduce electricity bills. Proper maintenance and periodically checking for leaks also help water heaters run efficiently for longer.


Washing Machines

Image of washing machine


Washing machines are now found in a large number of Indian households, especially in urban areas. With rising incomes, the ownership of fully automatic washing machines has surged. As per industry estimates, around 65% of urban households and around 30% of rural households own a washing machine.

The electricity consumption of a washing machine depends on various factors like the capacity, type of washing machine (fully automatic, semi-automatic, or twin tub), water temperature settings, spin speed, etc. As per BEE India, a typical 6-kg fully automatic washing machine consumes around 1 unit of electricity per wash cycle. The energy consumption is higher for semi-automatic models.

There are a few ways households can optimise washing machine electricity usage-

  • Wash full loads instead of partial loads to maximise efficiency.
  • se the economy or eco-wash modes, which use less electricity.
  • Set the correct wash temperature based on the load. Lower temperatures use less electricity.
  • Spread out washing machine usage throughout the week instead of just on weekends.
  • Clean lint filters regularly for optimal performance.
  • Upgrade to energy-efficient models with high BEE star ratings.
  • Turn off smart diagnostics and WiFi to conserve standby electricity.

With some planning and smart usage habits, significant electricity savings can be achieved for washing machines.


Other Major Appliances

Other major appliances


In addition to the major appliances discussed so far, several other electricity-consuming devices contribute significantly to household consumption in India.

Televisions are present in most Indian homes today. A typical 40-inch LED TV running for 5 hours a day can consume around 100 units per month. With multi-TV homes becoming common, this can add up quickly.

Lighting is an essential need, with Indian homes having anywhere between 5 and 15 light points on average. Using energy-efficient LED bulbs can help reduce some of this consumption.

Fans are ubiquitous given India’s tropical climate. Ceiling fans for 12 hours a day can consume around 65–100 units per month. Though essential for comfort, the use of air conditioning is better optimised with the strategic use of fans for air circulation.

Desktop computers are not as common now, with laptops being preferred, but they can still consume 60–100 units per month if used extensively. Laptops consume less, at around 30–60 units per month.

Music systems and other entertainment devices also consume power, although their usage may be more occasional. But having multiple such devices can again make an impact.

Optimising usage of these appliances as per needs and transitioning to more efficient models can significantly reduce associated electricity consumption.


Managing Electricity Consumption

Managing Electricity Consumption (An image of enciser app showing electricity usage)


With electricity rates rising, Indian households need to find ways to optimise their energy usage. Here are some tips to help manage consumption efficiently-

Tips to Optimise Usage of Appliances

  • Set AC temperatures to 24–25 °C. Lower settings drastically increase electricity use.
  • Only run refrigerators when fully loaded. Partial loads waste energy.
  • Use microwaves or induction cooktops instead of electric ovens when possible. They use less energy.
  • Wash clothes in cold water whenever possible. Heating water consumes lots of energy.
  • Unplug appliances when not in use to avoid phantom load losses.
  • Replace old appliances with energy-efficient models to reduce consumption.
  • Use an electricity usage monitor to track and monitor electricity consumption at home.

Load Scheduling and Planning

  • Plan cooking, cleaning, and laundry during non-peak hours to avoid high electricity rates.
  • Stagger the use of multiple appliances to prevent overload on circuits.
  • Shift chores requiring electricity to the morning or evening when it’s cooler.
  • Install timers on water heaters and air conditioners to run only when needed.

Using Solar Power

  • Install solar panels to generate electricity, reducing grid dependence.
  • Use solar water heaters instead of electric ones.
  • Consider solar pumps for agricultural needs.
  • Adopt solar-powered lighting like street lamps.
  • Leverage government subsidies and loans to install rooftop solar panels.

By following these tips and using solar power where possible, Indian households can optimise their electricity usage for cost and energy efficiency. Thoughtful planning and smart appliance use go a long way.


The Road Ahead

The Road Ahead (A picture of greener future and green energy)


As India continues on its path of rapid development and aims to provide electricity access for all, managing residential power consumption efficiently becomes crucial. Fortunately, several trends and initiatives can help-

Emerging Energy-Efficient Technologies

  • Energy-efficient appliances are becoming more accessible and affordable. LED lighting, inverter ACs, and 5-star-rated appliances can significantly reduce electricity usage.
  • Smart metres and home energy management systems provide real-time insights into consumption patterns, allowing consumers to optimise usage.
  • Renewable sources like solar power help reduce grid dependence, especially during peak hours when electricity demand spikes. Rooftop solar installation is gaining popularity.

Government Initiatives

  • The government’s UJALA scheme has helped distribute over 360 million LED bulbs, leading to enormous savings.
  • The new Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) guidelines mandate threshold efficiency performance standards for ACs, fans, TVs, and other appliances.
  • Time-of-day tariffs incentivize consumers to shift non-essential usage to off-peak hours.

Role of Consumers

  • Consumers must invest in energy-efficient appliances and properly maintain them.
  • Usage patterns should be optimised to avoid waste- setting AC temperatures higher, using sunlight instead of lights, and full washer and dishwasher loads.
  • Shifting non-essential loads like water heating to solar power or off-peak timings.
  • Participating in government initiatives and taking advantage of incentives and subsidies for efficient appliances.

With conscientious usage and adopting new technologies, Indian households can significantly reduce electricity consumption and bills. However, it requires informed consumer choices and behaviour change.



Managing electricity consumption in Indian households is crucial, given the concerns around power availability and sustainability in the country. This article summarised the major findings around which appliances consume the most electricity, including air conditioners, refrigerators, water heaters, and washing machines. While these appliances provide comfort and convenience in our daily lives, their use needs to be optimized for efficient energy usage.


Several practical tips were suggested, like using ACs and fridges efficiently by adjusting thermostat settings and ensuring proper ventilation, using solar water heaters, choosing energy-efficient models when purchasing appliances, and avoiding peak load times for running heavy-duty appliances. Small changes in our usage patterns can reduce electricity bills significantly. If widely adopted, these measures can have an impact at the macro level in terms of national power requirements.


Going forward, technology can play a key role in smart energy management in Indian households. Smart metres, sensors, and mobile apps can provide detailed insights into consumption patterns and help optimise usage. Conscious steps taken at an individual level, when multiplied across millions of households, can usher in a more sustainable future. The efficient use of electricity is a shared responsibility, and small steps can go a long way.

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