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What are the Electrical Energy Users in Your House?

What are the Electrical Energy Users in Your House?

By Jay Markanich, Real Estate Inspector – 9/13/2013

The question might better be put “who…” but you should ask yourself, what are the electrical energy users in your house?

We all have choices.  Sometimes we don’t have a choice as regards energy, but in many ways we can choose to use energy or not.  We can save energy too. For example, we can try to replace older things with newer things.  Older things, and we’ll get into this, typically use more energy than newer things.

What things?

Our electrical use is measured in terms of kilowatts.  A kilowatt is 1,000 watts per working hour.

Electrical things are absolutely necessary.  We all have them!

Sometimes electrical power used all the time, like your fridge for instance.  Other things only when we turn them on.  Then there are those things that continue to use energy even when turned “off.”  Those are called Energy Vampires, and we’ll talk about those later.

You can pick your poison when looking for energy-use pie charts.  I have this one on my website.  They vary somewhat.

These are the top six electric energy users found in most American houses, followed by their watt usage per hour.  The watt calculations for everything in this post come from General Electric.

1.  Electric furnace 17,221
2.  Central air conditioner 5,000
3.  Dryer 3,400
4.  Oven 2,300
5.  Dishwasher 800
6.  Water heater 479

But there are a multiplicity of electrical things we use in our houses every day!  This will vary from house to house, of course.  But as Americans our personal energy use grows every year.  How many computers and TVs did you have in your house 25 years ago, and how many do you have now?

Typically savings come from technological advancement.  That’s what we do as Americans!  We make things more efficient!  As we do people can save money.  So it really does pay to get newer things, generally speaking.  Some new things use MORE energy!

Here is the wattage use for appliances most people will have in their houses:  hair dryer 1,538, coffee maker 1,500, microwave 1,500, iron 1,100, toaster 1,100, and vacuum cleaner 650, freezer 273.

Some electric users most people have but don’t use so much wattage per hour include video games 195, DVR 33, cable TV box 20, DVD 17, wireless router 7 and cordless telephone 3.

Energy Star suggests that some electrical appliances are Energy-Use Vampires.

Basically these energy vampires include anything with a light that’s on all the time!

The light indicates there is stand-by power being used.

I have them, you have them, we all have them!  A couple of things that most people might not consider would include the garage-door opener, satellite dish, smoke detectors and security systems.

Many of us consider those things to be necessary!  And much of the things we have that draw stand-by power we probably consider to be necessary too.

But, some vampires, like charging cords, can be unplugged.  And things plugged into power strips can be turned off.

What about old versus new?

Some new things save energy and some do not.  For example, an old refrigerator (older than 1995) can use as much as 1,400 watts per hour.  These are plugged in all the time, so they can be expensive.  My power company charges me $.09 per kilowatt, so that old fridge could cost me $1,226 per year in electricity!  A new fridge, by comparison, regular kitchen size, uses about 188 watts, and costs around $70 per year.  That is a DRAMATIC savings!  So, don’t put that old fridge in the basement or garage!  It’s better to donate it to a charitable organization and buy a new one – you will break even really quickly!

A 60 watt incandescent light bulb uses, oh, 60 watts per hour!  A CFL 60 watt equivalent about 18 watts.  There are drawbacks to switching, but in terms of pure energy the CFL will save power.

What new things use more energy?  Remember the stand-by light?  New, flat-screen TVs use huge amounts of energy compared to the older TVs.  An old TV used about 150 watts, and if turned on 5 hours a day would cost $27/year.  The new flat screens?  About 339 watts, for an annual cost of $62 for those same 5 hours!  How many do you have in your house?

That’s why the stand-by appliances are called vampires!

Of course you’re asking – my computer and printer are on a lot.  What does it cost me?

A tower computer uses about 150 watts, a monitor 150 and printer 50.  If they are on 8 hours a day together they’re costing you about $90/year.  A laptop, by comparison, uses only 50 watts, so it saves a lot of electrical energy, costing only about $15/year.

My power company has an energy-use calculator.  Yours might too.  Just plug in your kilowatt charge, look up the watt usage of the electrical appliance, and figure it out!

My recommendation:  we are all managers.  We manage ourselves, our homes and our lives.  In terms of energy use we can all be better managers!  And after all, no one reaps the savings for smarter energy use but us!  That’s ALL of us!

Thank you for sharing this informative post, Jay!

Posted with permission from Jay Markanich.  Visit Jay’s website for more information.

Posted by Margaret Woda | Discussion: Comments Off on What are the Electrical Energy Users in Your House?

15 year vs 30 year loan comparison


Q. I’m thinking of refinancing my Crofton home, but I’ve been paying on my 6.5% loan for 12 years and don’t really want to re-start that 30–year term. What do you recommend?

A.  If you haven’t refinanced your home since interest rates dropped below 4%, now is the time to get off the fence and do it. 

Va and FHA borrowers will find it very easy to refinance, since you can take advantage of a streamline process that doesn’t require an appraisal, credit report, income verification or any of the other dreaded processing steps.  You just have to be “on time” with payments for the past year.  Even Conventional borrowers will find the aggravation of processing a new loan to be well worth the trouble at today’s record-low rates.

With the decision to refinance made, the next issue is this:  15 year or 30 year? 

The payments on a 15 year loan will be a little higher than a new 30–year loan, but you’ll get a lower interest rate and build equity much faster. 

Let’s look at an example of a $200,000 mortgage with the choice of a 30 year term @ 3.75% compared to a 15 year term @ 2.875%. The payments would be $442.94 higher on the shorter term but the equity would be considerably higher even after you adjust for the higher payments. 

15 vs 30 year loan comparison

If you’ve been paying down a 30–year loan @ 6% for the past 12 years, your payment will remain about the same, but you could drop 3 years off the remaining term.

On the other hand, refinancing to a new 30 year loan could reduce your mortgage payment cash flow at a time when federal, state, and local taxes are going up, and retirement is on the horizon for you. This is an option that may be right for some borrowers, especially if cash flow is your Number 1 concern.

Contact me if you’d like a recommendation for a trusted Crofton area mortgage lender who can help you examine your options and make the right decision for your situation.

Chart and some content licensed by


FlagComing soon:  Star-Spangled Sailabration, June 13–19, 2012.  

An international parade of more than 40 tall ships and naval vessels sailing into Baltimore for the national launch of the Bicentennial of the War of 1812 and the writing of the Star-Spangled Banner.  Star-Spangled Sailabration will feature free tours of the ships, waterside festivities, an airshow featuring the Blue Angels, and the world-premiere of “Overture for 2012,” composed by Philip Glass.

Posted by Margaret Woda | Discussion: Comments Off on 15 year vs 30 year loan comparison

Should I worry about lead paint in Crofton area homes?

Crofton Real Estate Q&A

Q.  So many homes in the greater Crofton area were built before 1978… Should I worry about lead-based paint?

A.  In Crofton, Gambrills, Odenton, Bowie and across Maryland and the United States, there are many homes built before 1978, when lead-based paint was banned in residential property. 

Federal and State regulations exist to protect occupants of homes where lead-based paint may have been used before 1978.  For example, sellers and landlords across America are required to provide home buyers and tenants with a booklet produced by the Environmental Protection Agency titled Protect Your Family From Lead in Your Home.  All parties to a sale or lease of any home built before 1978 must sign the Disclosure of Information on Lead-Based Paint and Lead-Based Paint Hazards.  

Home inspector flippedIn Maryland, buyers of homes built before 1978 have 10–day window to obtain an assessment or inspection by someone certified by the Maryland Department of the Environment. Maryland REALTORS use a Lead Based Paint Inspection Addendum and a disclosure regarding the Maryland Lead Poisoning Prevention Program in transactions for these homes.

When a client asks me whether they should be concerned about lead in a Crofton area home built before 1978, it would be foolish for me to do anything other than refer them to these official documents and suggest that they obtain a lead inspection. 

Apparently, most home buyers are satisfied with the results of their inspection, since older homes change hands every day, but that alone is not adequate justification for waiving the opportunity to have an inspection.

Better to be safe than sorry!

The publications mentioned in this post are available for download on my website,


Posted by Margaret Woda | Discussion: Comments Off on Should I worry about lead paint in Crofton area homes?

Crofton Home Seller Asks About Staging

Crofton MD Real Estate Q&A

Q.  Why pay a stager?  I can de-clutter my own home!

A.  Staging is the art of converting a home which reflects the occupant’s personality and lifestyle into a property where prospective buyers can imagine themselves living.

Living Room2Real estate agents will usually tell you that a home is show-ready when it is uncluttered, clean, in good repair, neutral, and accessorized.  But staging takes this description to a whole new level by making it easier (if not easy) for buyers to imagine how they might utilize the space to accommodate their own personality and lifestyle.

Stagers know what today’s buyers are looking for and they know how to highight the features of a home in this context so it will generate a positive emotional response in buyers.

D.C. REALTOR Pat Kennedy gives one example in Skinny mirrors: You look great and the house does too. While I’m not suggesting home sellers should hang skinny mirrors (and Pat isn’t, either), I do believe buyers respond more favorably to a home that makes them feel good. 

Young families probably won’t be attracted to a home where they can easily imagine their parents or grandparents living. On the other hand, they may like the floorplan, location, and features of the same home after it has been professionally staged.  This may be as simple as replacing home furnishings, colors and accessories of the 80’s with others that are popular today.

94% of staged homes sell in less than 30 days. Wouldn’t you rather pay a stager up-front ($300–$3,000) than drop the price $5,000–$10,000 after 30 days?

Crofton homes sit on the market an average of 128 days before selling (based on statistics from MRIS).  If you want to sell your home more quickly than that, contact me for an introduction to professional stagers in this area.

Copyright 2012. All rights reserved. Margaret Woda


The purpose of this blog is to provide the latest community and real estate information to relocating home buyers and current residents of the greater Crofton area. Please contact me with real estate questions or news about your local organization or business.  I’m happy to share them with other readers of Focus On Crofton.

Posted by Margaret Woda | Discussion: Comments Off on Crofton Home Seller Asks About Staging

Why Wait to Look at Homes?

Rent SignCrofton MD Real Estate Q&A

Q.  I want to rent a home in September, but agents won’t show me homes now.  Why wait?

A.  Homes on the market for rent are typically available within the next 60 days, and may be available as early as immediately.

Homes with September occupancy probably won’t start coming on the market before July and August, so the best use of your time now is to educate yourself about rental property locations, features, and prices by reviewing online listings. 

Let’s make a date now to get together after July 1. In the meantime, I can send you rental listings that meet your critieria.  You never know… one of them might just tempt you to rent a property sooner than September



Posted by Margaret Woda | Discussion: Comments Off on Why Wait to Look at Homes?

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