Friday Feature: Visualizing Home Appliance Energy Use

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If you haven't already heard, we heart data. We made it our Valentine this year. We dedicated a whole week to it. Plus, we have the biggest, baddest data scientist on the block. Okay, maybe not the biggest-he's more of the skinny, sartorial type- but he was a freakin' rocket scientist at MIT. Come on. So, when other companies are able to harness their datasets to communicate information in a way that is both aesthetically pleasing and digestible, we pay attention. Much like WegoWise is doing with data.wegowise, GE has collected and reorganized the vast amount of data from their technologies to create a data visualization site. From the future of heart health in China to how Hawaii is leveraging wind and solar energy, the site is a gold mine for data and design nerds alike.

One of our favorites is an interactive visualization that ranks home appliance energy use. Fifty-three of the most common home appliances are ranked and normalized based on power used in watts, consumption in gallons of gas, dollars spent per year, and 1 kilowatt hour yield in terms of batches, loads, or meals. For example, how much do you think it costs to run a central air conditioner per year in Texas? $621.43. How about in Massachusetts? Try $829.07.  If that comes as a surprise, consider that the average price per kilowatt for the residential sector in Massachusetts is around $0.17, while it's $0.12 in Texas (EIA). 

Home energy appliance costs, central AC, GE data visualization


One of the more fun applications is figuring out how much juice your appliances can get out of 1 kilowatt hour. Here are some highlights: 

With 1 kilowatt hour of energy: 

  1. A blender will yield 400 margaritas. 
  2. A DVD player will play 29 movies. 
  3. A video game console will last 5 hours. 
  4. An electric blanket will warm you for one night. 
  5. An electric oven will make one batch of cupcakes. 

For certain appliances, GE has tacked on an Energy Star payback calculator, which estimates the payback time for replacing old appliances with energy efficient, Energy Star appliances. You can adjust the calculator based on the state you live in and the age of the appliance and it will calculate the time it takes for an Energy Star replacement to pay for itself. For example, if you live in New York and have a pre-1994 clothes washer, an Energy Star replacement would pay for itself in 3 years. 

Energy Star payback calculator, GE data visualization


If you're looking to distract yourself this Friday afternoon, check out, play around, then head over to