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.
When you’re scrambling for caffeine to help wake up first thing in the morning, the question of how much energy does a coffee maker use may not be at the forefront of your mind. However, your coffee ritual does add a small but real addition to your monthly utility bills – and depending on how you prepare your coffee, the expense could be greater than you think. Read on to discover how much electricity you are really devoting to your coffee maker wattage, and how to conserve energy without cutting back on the number of cups you drink per day.
The Surprising Cost of Boiling Water
No matter how you choose to make your coffee, the bulk of the energy goes into heating up the water. It takes about 1000 watts over 5 minutes to bring water from 50 degrees to a near-boiling level of 200 degrees. Of course, if you heat water on a gas stove and pour over a single serving funnel or into a French press, you might use no electricity at all, although there is still the cost of gas to consider. Beyond the simple manual tools, though, most U.S. households use one (or more) of three basic types of electricity-powered coffee makers: automatic drip machines, single-serving pod devices, and espresso machines.
In addition to the electricity required to boil the water, many of these appliances have a secondary energy cost to power the warming plate and keep the drink hot after you complete the brewing process. Trace amounts of electricity also goes into the bells, whistles and convenience features like built-in grinders, steam wands, timers and the like. Finally, if the model has standby power used to run a clock or timer, it will use an additional watt or so of electricity.
How Much Does It Cost to Use a Coffee Maker?
Most consumer models use between 750 to 1200 watts with automatic shutdown occurring after two hours. That means on average each pot will run you about .083 kWh, and an average full-sized automatic drip filter coffee maker will use about 730 kWh annually, costing (assuming a rate of 12¢/kWh) $87.60 or $7.30 per month. By comparison, an espresso machine consumes about .0156 kWh per shot. That comes out to be slightly more expensive than sticking to the drip machine, though you may find it worthwhile if you love the ritual and flavor of espresso.
Calculating how much your cup of coffee really costs you depends on how much electricity you need to meet the coffee pot wattage requirements, and an accurate answer to the riddle of how many watts does a coffee maker use depends on what type and model you have. Among the different devices, drip filter coffee makers generally use the least electricity, although they do typically use electric-resistance warming plates to heat water and keep the beverage warm.
The True Cost of Single Serve Machines
Single serve coffee machines have enjoyed a surge in popularity, thanks to the speed and ease of use they offer. That convenience comes with a price, however, and not just in the form of endless used coffee pods that you throw in the trash. The reason that these devices are able to spit out hot coffee at the push of a button is that they use a heating element to keep the water warm at all times – like a miniature version of your home’s hot water tank. Unless you turn the device off entirely, it will use somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 watts per hour to keep the water heated all day. That could add as much as $5 per month to your electricity bill, above and beyond what you would expect from a drip machine, or $60 annually, which could be enough to give pause to even the biggest single serve aficionados. To put it another way, to make one mug of coffee in a single serve machine uses about .024 kWh, which is three times less efficient than your drip machine.
How to Limit Energy Consumption Devoted to Coffee
It’s tempting to discount the cost of electricity that goes into small appliances like coffee makers, toasters, electric blankets and the like. But while it’s true that many of your devices are only costing you pennies per use, it’s still smart to seek out ways to conserve energy in the aggregate – after all, a few dollars per year times many minor appliances can add up to a substantial amount of money, and why spend it on electricity if you don’t have to? Plus, you can gain the added psychological benefit of knowing that you are doing your part to reduce consumption and lessen the strain on our natural environment.
You do have options to reduce your coffee-related energy usage, without cutting back on your caffeine habit:
- Switch to a manual brewing method such as pour over or French press. If those aren’t to your liking, avoiding single serve machines can still help you save a few dollars.
- Look for a coffee maker that actually turns all the way off when not in use, instead of going on standby power. Or you can just unplug the machine when you’re not actively brewing something.
- Purchase a coffee maker with the Energy Star label to ensure you are getting one of the more efficient models on the market.
- Clean out mineral buildup monthly to keep your unit heating efficiently, extend its lifespan and prevent bacteria growth.
- Continue brewing your own hot beverages in lieu of driving to a coffee shop. The cost of the gas you burn to make the trip will very quickly surpass any energy savings you realize from reducing your electricity consumption (to say nothing of the cost of the coffee itself).