It's hard to imagine any modern home without at least one appliance turned on. Everybody uses energy to live — watching TV, using the computer, or opening the refrigerator to search for something to eat.
The same is true in a Solar Decathlon house. The teams must do laundry, power a home office, cook dinner, and leave the television turned on for 6 hours a day.
Clearly reducing energy use by choosing the most efficient appliances can significantly reduce the average monthly energy bill. Whereas many energy-efficient appliances are readily available on the commercial market, the Solar Decathlon teams seek any competitive advantage they can find, and may even modify an already high-performing appliance. For instance, some teams in the inaugural Solar Decathlon added more insulation to their refrigerators and freezers to reduce the amount of energy used to maintain proper temperatures.
To earn points, student teams must maintain a certain temperature in their refrigerators and freezers, wash and dry clothing, cook meals, use a dishwasher to clean the dishes, as well as leave the television on for 6 hours a day and the computer on for 8 hours a day.