Yikes! My hair dryer uses HOW much electricity?


Last week, I wrote about measuring the electricity my computer was using by plugging it into an electrical meter called a Kill a Watt.

Hair Dryer OffThis week, I decided to try my hair dryer with the Kill a Watt, and holy cow. So my computer was drawing about 92 watts. My hair dryer on low used 402 watts. Switch it to high, and it goes to 1440 watts!

Why is that number so high? Well, the hair dryer is producing heat, and that can consume a lot of electricity. Here’s a great list from the Department of Energy with the typical wattages of many appliances. Some of the big electricity users are obvious: your water heater, your refrigerator, dishwashers. But some of the smaller appliances on the list that are unexpectedly high produce a lot of heat: irons, toasters and hair dryers, for instance.

On the other hand, just because an appliance uses a lot of electricity while it’s on doesn’t mean much, because it all depends on how long you leave it on. Remember, your electric bill is based on kilowatt-hours, and that’s electric use over time. And while I use my computer for many hours a day, I typically spend five minutes or less drying my hair. So where am I using the most electricity?

Hair Dryer vs. Computer: Here’s How It Breaks Down 

So, I’ve left the Kill a Watt plugged into my computer for 10 days now, and the meter shows that during that time the computer has used 13.5 kilowatt-hours of electricity.

5/10/2015 12:45:26 AM

Hi, I am doing a science project at school on energy and I have chosen to compare the efficiency of hair straighteners and hair dryers. I was just wondering if there was an energy star rating of a percentage on this product for it's efficiency. Thanks, Emma

1/13/2014 12:01:57 PM

Use of hair dryer may not look expensive after reading this article, but this product works for the evil of hair health. Almost every http://toppik.com.au/all-products/ has instructions to avoid the use of hair dryer with it. The hot wind may make hair silky, but it will damage the keratin cells as well.

Megan Phelps
12/1/2008 9:40:38 AM

Hi Marty, I agree with you, measuring electricity use is just the first step, figuring out how to use less electricity (or how to get more of it from renewable sources) is what makes a difference from an environmental standpoint. But I have to admit, I'm interested in measuring electricity use for a slightly different reason: I don't think many of us have a good understanding of how turning on an electric appliance (whether it's a hair dryer, a computer, a refrigerator or whatever) relates to our total electricity use. Does that light consume a lot of electricity or a little? Does letting my hair air dry in the morning make a big difference in my total electricity use, or not? And how does all of that relate to my carbon footprint? To me, measuring the electricity use of a specific appliance is just a part of starting to understand the larger picture. But for anyone looking specifically for energy saving ideas, there really is a lot you can do at home. About a year ago, I wrote a short article with links to a few good resources for reducing your carbon footprint. You can find it here: http://www.motherearthnews.com/Nature-Community/2007-10-01/What-You-Can-Do-About-Global-Climate-Change.aspx

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