How Much Energy Does My White Noise Machine Use? | The Light Lab

How Much Energy Does My White Noise Machine Use?

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.

How do White Noise Machines Work?

Oddly enough, not everyone is lulled to sleep by the sounds of an active neighborhood. Sirens, road noise, muffled music or a TV from the apartment down the hall can introduce just enough intrusive sounds to wake a person from their sleep. Many people use white noise machines to mask or wash-out troubling background noise so that they can get a good night’s sleep. White noise is sound that combines all frequencies together at a more or less uniform amplitude. White noise masks intelligible sounds by filling in all the frequencies around a recognizable sound. A sharp recognizable wailing siren in the background, for example, gets blurred by all the other frequencies that make up white noise.

Most white noise machines employ recordings of naturally soothing environments, such as stormy forests, running streams, crashing ocean waves, crackling campfires, or simple static. Some come with night lights or even soothing projections, as well as timers.

How Much Energy Does a White Noise Machine Use?

A ballpark estimate of the wattage used runs from 3 to 18 watts, depending on the volumeof the machine, timer options, and lighting options. Using a 9 watt white noise machine for eight hours a night for a year eats up 26.28 kWh. At 10¢/kilowatt-hour (kWh), that’s merely $2.63 a year to run it — not counting batteries, of course.

Many white noise machines are portable and battery-operated, using 2 to 4 AA batteries (roughly 3 to 6 volts DC). These also come with “wall wart” power adapters (some manufacturers do not supply power ratings of their third party adapters in their user manuals). As with those used on baby monitors and other gadgets, AC adapters can leak from .7 to 1.6 watts without being connected to anything. So be sure to unplug it if it’s not powering anything. A few models, such as Sound Therapy Systems’ BST-100 Bluetooth System, also give your the option of powering it via the USB port of your computer with a USB cable. USB power spec is 5 volts DC running at about 500mA (0.5A).

Marpac’s Dohm differs from most models in that it uses an adjustable fan and vents to produce white noise at varying volumes. While mechanical devices might deliver a more soothing quality of white noise for some sleepers, the volume depends on the motor speed, and keeping a fan spinning fast uses much more energy than playing a digital recording. The Dohm Original Sound Conditioner can use up to 40 watts. At 320 watts per eight hour night, it’s using a whole lot more electricity during one year — 116.8 kWh or around $11.68 per year.

While some white noise generators may be expensive to buy, you’re not going to lose too much sleep over how much they cost to power. So if you’re worried about how much your white noise generator is costing you — you can give it a rest. As anyone will tell you, you can’t put a price on a good night’s sleep.

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Vernon Trollinger is a writer with a background in home improvement, electronics, fiction writing, and archaeology. He now writes about green energy technology, home energy efficiency, the natural gas industry, and the electrical grid.