Saving energy (and money) is always easier when you know how much you’re using. But because many of the convenient smaller appliances we use seem to draw little amounts of power, we all too often discount how their use really does impact our electricity bills. With our How Much Energy Does This Appliance Use? series, we’ll examine what’s watt in small appliances to see approximately how much they use. To help you understand very basic electrical consumption calculations, you’ll need to keep a simple equation in mind: Volts (V) x Amperes (I) = Watts (W). What you’ll discover is how just how small appliances can contribute to your home’s energy usage and how these little conveniences can make big differences on your bill.
The bathroom might not be the first room you look in while on the hunt to cut down on your electricity consumption, but chances are someone in your family uses an electric device or two as part of their regular grooming routine – and where there are appliances, there are also opportunities for savings. When you arm yourself with a bit of knowledge regarding the number of watts in hair dryers and other common bathroom tools, you can save a few dollars on your utility bills while still emerging from the house every day looking your best.
The Hidden Electricity Cost of Heating Your Hair
The primary sources of electricity consumption in most bathrooms (aside from the light bulb) are devices used to heat up your hair, such as curlers, flat irons, crimping irons, hair dryers and the like. These small appliances all rely on heating elements, which require a certain amount of energy to run. The elements are typically made of metal for curlers and irons, while modern hair dryers may contain ceramic heating elements which retain heat longer and diffuse it more evenly. In addition, many hair dryers use a powerful AC motor, which requires still more electricity to operate.
How Many Watts Does a Hair Dryer Use?
Many people use a hand-held hair dryer every day, but fewer could answer the question of how much energy does a hair dryer use. It turns out the devices’ energy consumption is relatively high, given the demands of creating and blowing enough dry, hot air to evaporate water from your hair. The total amount of energy needed to use a hair dryer varies based on your model and generally falls between 1,200 and 2,000 watts, with the most common usage right around 1,875 watts. Exactly how much electricity that consumes really depends on how long it takes to dry your hair:
- 5 minutes = .156 kilowatt-hours (kWh)
- 15 minutes = .468 kWh
- 30 minutes = .937 kWh
- 1 hour = 1.857 kWh
The other variable is how much you pay for electricity. Let’s take an example rate of 10¢/kWh – at that price, if you use a 1,875-watt hair dryer for 5 minutes every day for one year, your usage will look like this:
- .156 kWh/ day or 1.5¢/day
- 68kWh/month or 49¢ /month
- 16 kWh/year or about $5.62/year
While these devices might not be the most energy-efficient household appliances out there, if you use them sparingly the impact on your bills is minimal. If instead, you stand in front of the mirror blow drying your hair for an hour each day for a year, you’ll shell out $67.44 for the electricity, which is a pretty substantial difference.
Power Consumption of Curlers and Irons
Hair curlers, flat irons, and the like all rely on metal heating elements inside the iron to heat your hair. Just as with hair dryers, the exact amount of power consumed will depend on the model. With rollers, for example, the wattage used depends on how fast they reach the right temperature, how many rollers there are, and whether the rollers are made of metal or more efficient ceramic. As a ballpark figure, you can expect the heating base for your rollers to run around 350 watts for as long as it takes you to put them in place. Flat irons and crimping irons have two sets of heating elements, so depending on design, they can use twice that wattage or higher.
Smaller Motorized Bathroom Devices
While hair dryers account for the bulk of electricity consumption in the bathroom, there are a number of smaller grooming tools that also require power to run. Devices with small motors like shavers, trimmers, epilators and face scrubbers typically rely on fast, low-voltage DC motors, usually 12 volts or less and fewer than 1 amp. Many of these tools are battery powered, but others can be plugged in or function as cordless rechargeable devices that come with an AC adapter.
Don’t forget to unplug your adapters when you aren’t using them. A charger adapter for a trimmer puts out 3.3 volts at .01 amps or .1 watts per hour. That’s not a large amount of electricity in and of itself — just 1 watt over ten hours — but when combined with all the other adaptors plugged in around your home, the cost can add up over time.
How to Save on Your Hair Care Costs
While electricity for your hair care devices probably isn’t breaking the bank, every bit of savings counts. You can achieve efficiencies in the bathroom by considering the following tips:
- Try to use the hair dryer for as short an amount of time as possible. As we see from the examples above, a few extra minutes every day adds up.
- Turn off and unplug your chargers and appliances when not in use to prevent wasting trace amounts of electricity.
- Run the bathroom ventilation fan or open a window for 15 minutes after showering, or during your shower, before you start styling your hair, since the hair dryer will work more quickly and efficiently in a room with low humidity.