Which home appliances drain the most (and least) energy?

Want to cut down on your home’s energy consumption? The average electricity consumption per household in Hong Kong is about 390 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per month, and the government is looking to reduce the city’s energy intensity by 40% by 2025. In order to do this, we all need to play our part. 

This week’s 8Shades 8 Week challenge encourages you to reduce your energy usage at home – and if you’re unsure about which appliances to unplug, we’ve broken it down for you below. Here’s a list of home appliances that drain the most (and least) energy – you might just be surprised!

Home appliances that use the most energy

Air conditioner

In the hot and humid summer months in Hong Kong, nothing feels quite as good as an air conditioner blasting cool, crisp air. However, they’re incredibly power intensive, accounting for 30% of Hong Kong’s annual energy use and contributing 60% (!!) of the city’s annual greenhouse gas emissions

Washing machines and water heaters

Appliances that use water, such as washing machines and water heaters, account for around 25% of an average household’s electrical use, because the power needed to heat the water the appliances use pushes up consumption. A water heater can use up to 12 kWh of energy, more than the peak consumption levels of an air conditioner, washing machine, iron, hair dryer and rice cooker combined.

Cooking appliances

Around 19% of a household’s electricity use goes to powering kitchen appliances, including stoves, ovens, kettles, hot plates, rice cookers and microwaves. A hot plate can use up to 2.5kWh of energy and a rice cooker 1.4kWh.

Fridges and freezers

Fridges and freezers fall under cold appliances and account for around 16% of total electricity use. By nature, they need to stay on all the time, so they are continuously using power to maintain a constant temperature. 

Consumer electronics 

Between our laptops, TVs, mobile phones and gaming consoles, it should come as no surprise that consumer electronics account for nearly 20% of total electricity use. TVs represent the bulk of this, using around 30% of the total electricity we use on electronic devices. 

Home appliances that use the least energy


Several studies have shown that washing dishes by hand can consume as much as 35 to 160 litres of water on average, while a dishwasher uses less than 14 litres. In terms of energy consumption, the amount of energy required for hand washing with hot water is generally more than what is required for a dishwasher to complete. 

dishwasher energy efficient home appliance
A dishwasher is one of the most eco-friendly home appliances in terms of energy efficiency. Source: The News Minute


Thank goodness for dehumidifiers, especially in Hong Kong where the average annual percentage of humidity is 77%! While energy efficiency varies between models, dehumidifiers’ energy use is rather low, generally speaking. An average 33-litre dehumidifier uses around 0.7kWh of energy, drawing less power than a water heater, air conditioner and even a hair dryer.


Lighting takes up around 6% of the total electrical use in the average home. More and more homes are switching to LED lightbulbs, which are an affordable and easy way to reduce energy use at home. 

led lightbulb energy efficient home appliance.
LED lightbulb (Source: Destination Lighting).

Take action now

This guide is a useful starting point when figuring out how to cut down on your energy usage, but there are plenty of other things we can do, like washing your clothes in cooler temperatures, turning off appliances that you’re not using, and looking at energy efficiency labels when shopping for appliances. They’re all small habits, but when they add up, it will have a large impact on your energy intensity (and bills)!

NEXT: Join the 8Shades 8-Week Challenge!