You may be surprised when you estimate what percent of your total monthly electric your ENTIRE kitchen uses. There’re a few variables to consider when calculating a kitchen’s energy consumption:
- Do you have a gas stove and oven, or an electric?
- Do you use a dishwasher or wash dishes by hand?
- Do you use a clothes dryer or hang out laundry to dry?
- Do you use incandescent light bulbs or have you converted to LED?
- Do you use water provided by the city you live in, or do you have a well?
The three most essential conventional kitchen appliances are most likely your refrigerator, stove and oven. If your stove and oven are both electric then just those three appliances consume approximately 14% of the total household electricity used in a typical three bedroom home (without a pool or spa). The refrigerator averages 7 to 8%, oven 4%, stove about 2% of the total electric usage*. (*total electric usage takes into consideration the effects of heating and cooling peaks and lulls across a full year)
Next figure a kitchen uses about 50% of all hot water used or roughly 7% of the total electric usage. Kitchens take up about 1/6 of a homes square footage, so air-conditioning a kitchen in summer and heating it in winter uses about 1/6 of a homes total heating & cooling costs. Whole house heating & cooling is about 45% of a typical household’s electric usage, so heating & cooling just the kitchen is about 7% of the total monthly electric usage. Next add kitchen lighting, running a dishwasher, coffee maker, toaster and other small appliances – about 3%. Last but not least, add in the electric used to run a washing machine (4%) and dryer (5%) as part of essential kitchen related function. Remarkably, essential kitchen related functions consume about 40% of all household electricity.
Vital – Desirable – Nonessential
The following categories will be a little different for every household, but this is how we chose to break it down for our household:
- Essential kitchen functions: refrigeration 8%, baking 4%, stove-top cooking 3% = 15% of total household electric
- Very desirable kitchen related functions: clothes washing 3%, household well water pumping 3% = 6% of total electric
- Desirable kitchen related conveniences: hot water (used both in kitchen & laundry) 5%, AC & heat (of the kitchen space) 7% = 12% of total household electric
- Nonessential kitchen related conveniences: dishwasher 2%, clothes dryer 5%, kitchen lighting 1%, other small appliances 2% = 10% of total electric
- GRAND TOTAL (Percent Energy Used for All Kitchen Related Functions) = 43% (40% for a household using city water, vs a well water pump)
Certainly there is a great deal of flexibility on what is considered vital, desirable or nonessential. For anyone living in an apartment a clothes dryer is considered essential. Air conditioning and heating are essential for year round comfort unless one lives in a temperate climate such as Southern California. Of course kitchen lighting is also essential ongoing, but during a short term power outage lighting can be provided with the ambiance of candles or lanterns.
Join the Eco-Kitchen Evolution
Forty percent of monthly electric is used in kitchen related activities. That’s a huge amount of dependence on an electric grid which has been increasingly effected by hurricanes, floods & wild fires. Now is the time to plan and figure out action to take in your own kitchen.
If a goal is to maintain key kitchen function during a power outage, then the point of categorizing a kitchen’s reliance on the electric grid is to prioritize which are the main appliances to have an energy independent solution for. What appliances are relied on the most? If also concerned about our personal carbon footprint it helps to know which appliances use the greatest portion of our energy budget, and how the electric distributed from our local power company is generated.
Future posts will delve into innovative solutions and alternatives to conventional electric appliances – starting with what are generally considered to be the most essential functions. Even the so called “inessential” kitchen related conveniences that make our lives easier deserve attention, and along the way solutions for them will be covered too.