How Much Energy Does My Blow Dryer Use?

By Vernon Trollinger, September 6, 2016, Energy Efficiency

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 Much Energy Do These Hair Care Appliances Use?

How Much Energy Does My Blow Dryer Use? | Bounce Energy Blog

The amount of energy used in the pursuit of looking your best can be enough to curl your hair. The bulk of the energy consumed in personal care goes to styling hair. Now while that sounds like a deeply tangled topic, it turns out that it’s easy to comb through when you know where to look. In fact, we can organize beauty supplies into two basic categories:

  1. Anything with a small motor – Shavers, trimmers, epilators, face scrubbers, etc; and
  2. Heated hair styling tools – curlers, flat irons, etc.

Let’s examine them independently of each other.

Motorized Devices

How Much Energy Does My Blow Dryer Use? | Bounce Energy Blog

We’re talking about anything that relies upon a small, fast low-voltage DC motor. These are typically 12 volts or less and use less than 1 amp. Most are battery powered (2 to 4 AA batteries) or cordless rechargeable devices that come with an AC adapter (for example, the “wall wart”charger displayed above).

How Much Energy Does My Blow Dryer Use? | Bounce Energy Blog

Trimmer power supply on left, shaver recharging base on right. Both use less than half a watt.

These chargers should be kept unplugged when not being used to charge or power something. A trimming charger wall wart puts out 3.3 volts at .01 amps or .1 watts per hour. That’s not much at all — just 1 watt over ten hours — but when combined with other wall warts in your home that you leave plugged in, this can add up to an unneeded expense over time.

Heatin’ Up Your Hair Care

How Much Energy Does My Blow Dryer Use? | Bounce Energy Blog

Hair curlers, flat irons, and the like all rely on metal heating elements inside the iron to heat your hair. Flat irons (and crimping irons) have two sets of heating elements, so depending on design, they can use twice that wattage (or higher).

How Much Energy Does My Blow Dryer Use? | Bounce Energy Blog

Blow dryers do not have wall warts — as such. In 1991, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission required that blow dryers must have a ground fault circuit interrupter so it cannot electrocute a person if it gets wet.

Mid-range and above priced blow dryers rely on both a powerful AC motor and heating elements. Originally, hand-held blow dryers only had metal coil heating elements. In the past decade, ceramic heating elements have become popular due to their heating efficiency. Compared to metal heating coils, ceramic heating elements retain heat longer and diffuses the heat more evenly.

However, the main point of a blow dryer is to forcefully blow dry, hot air across your hair to evaporate water. Thus, it will use lots of energy to do that – between 1,200 and 2,000 watts, depending on the make and model of the blow dryer and the styling needs of the individual.

One basic thing to keep in mind is that a blow dryer will work most efficiently (and quickest) in a room with low humidity. Therefore, if you style your hair in front of your bathroom mirror after your shower, it’s best to vent all that warm, wet air for about 15 minutes before your start using your blow dryer. To accomplish this, run the bathroom ventilation fan or open a window.

How Much Energy Does My Blow Dryer Use? | Bounce Energy Blog

Hot rollers (or curlers) absorb heat from its heating unit in a short time. The wattage used depends on how fast the rollers get to the right temperature, how many rollers there are, and what the rollers are made of — the most efficient kind being ceramic, as it reduces heating time.

Most manufacturers don’t publish the power usage of this device; however, apart from the rollers, the heating technology hasn’t changed very much over the past 20 years. Expect the heating base for your rollers to run around 350 watts for as long as it takes you to put them in place.

How Much Will These Appliances Cost You?

How Much Energy Does My Blow Dryer Use? | Bounce Energy Blog

When it comes to daily usage, the most popular beauty “appliance” is the hand-held blow dryer. The most common wattage is right around 1,875 watts. The length of time you use it is really what determines the cost:

  • 1 hour = 1.857 kWh
  • 30 minutes = .937 kWh
  • 15 minutes = .468 kWh
  • 5 minutes = .156 kWh

Assuming you pay 10¢/kWh on your fixed-rate plan from your electricity company, if you use your 1,875 watt blow dryer for 5 minutes every day for one year, your usage will look like this:

  • .156 kWh/ day or 1.5¢/day
  • 4.68kWh/month or 49¢ /month
  • 56.16 kWh/year or about $5.62/year

Whew! It seems that while heat-generating personal care devices are not energy-efficient, the price to look your best day after day probably won’t bleed you dry.

That being said, what you really have to watch out for is keeping your chargers and appliances plugged in when you’re not using them. It’s this vampire energy around your home that can cause the “death by a thousand tiny cuts” to your home’s electricity bill. Be smart with your beauty appliance usage by turning them off and unplugging them when you’re finished!

Think the energy costs to tidy up your home suck? Leave them in the dust! Stay tuned for the next installment of How Much Energy Does This Appliance Use? when we show you how to sweep away the expense of vacuum cleaners.

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About 

A native of Wyomissing Hills, PA, Vernon Trollinger studied writing and film at the University of Iowa, later earning his MA in writing there as well. Following a decade of digging in CRM archaeology, he now writes about green energy technology, home energy efficiency, DIY projects, the natural gas industry, and the electrical grid.

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