Home Habits: A Look at How Much We Use the Items We Own

Imagine the early morning sun casting a warm glow on the myriad of items that share your living space.

From the kettle that heralds the day with its whistle to the laptop that hums softly as it wakes from slumber, each item has its moment of glory.

However, as we scuttle through our daily chores, there’s a silent majority of belongings that wait patiently for a turn that seldom comes.

They sit in corners, fill drawers, and occupy shelves, silently narrating the tale of our consumerist tendencies.

Our homes are bustling with items, from essential appliances to cherished knickknacks.

However, 80% of homeowners feel their space is becoming a cluttered haven, a sentiment backed by studies revealing an astounding average of 300,000 items in American homes.

This material sprawl not only nudges cars out of garages but also hints at a ripple effect on our wallets and well-being.

Photo of inside of a cluttered home, full of appliances and tools.

A recent dive into this domestic scenario unearthed some quirky yet thought-provoking insights. We surveyed more than 200 city-dwellers to know what are the ownership and usage rates for 100 of the most common items you can find in a home (such as kitchen appliances, electronic items or sports equipment) and the results were…worrying.

Let’s take a thoughtful look at the stuff we own and how much value we get out of them.

Disclaimer: Just a little heads-up before we dive in— the insights shared here are sparked from a survey among a cozy group of folks. So, the data is like a snapshot from a small corner of a much bigger picture. While the responses paint a fascinating picture of how we interact with the stuff in our lives, remember, it’s a glimpse rather than the whole panorama. The way folks remembered and reported their usage of items might have its own sprinkle of human forgetfulness or biases. It’s a conversation starter, for sure, but take it with a grain of salt and a dash of understanding. Happy reading!

The Survey

First, we came up with a list of the 100 most common items we can find on most homes, divided into 6 different categories:

  • Home Appliances (Vacuum Cleaner, Pressure Washer, Hair Dryer, Electric Fan, etc)
  • Kitchen Appliances (Stand Mixer, Blender, Toaster, Microwave Oven, etc)
  • Tools (Power Drill, Soldering Iron, Hammer, Screwdriver, etc)
  • Electronic Equipment (Laptop, Headphones, Digital Camera, eBook Reader, etc)
  • Musical Equipment (Guitar, Piano, Trumpet, etc)
  • Sports/Training Equipment (Soccer Ball, Tennis Racquet, Yoga Mat, Dumbbells, etc)

Then, for each of the items the respondents said they or another member of their household own, we asked how frequently they use it:

  • Usually every day
  • Pretty much every week
  • Maybe a couple of times per month
  • A few times per year
  • Rarely, only on special situations
  • I don’t really use it anymore

We got more than 200 answers in our (informal) survey and we can see some interesting – and troubling – patterns!

The Results

The survey showed an average ownership rate of 60%; that is, for the 100-items we asked about, our respondents mentioned owning 60 of them, on average.

But here’s the zinger: over 50% of owners said that, for nearly half of these items, they “rarely” or “never” use them anymore.

This means that for most of the people that answered, most of the items they own are barely used, if used at all. We’re drowning in stuff we don’t use.

Now, who are these silent spectators in our daily drama? Stationary bikes, computer monitors, and printers topped the list of the most neglected.

Every owner of a stationary bike confessed to its idle state (and no, using it as a clothes rack doesn’t count). Same goes for the monitors and printers. They seem to have retired early from their active duties, now serving as sophisticated dust collectors.

Photo of an exercise bike being used as a clothes rack

On the flip side, there are those loyal companions we turn to, day in and day out. Headphones and trusty kitchen gadgets like microwaves and coffee makers seldom get a day off. Especially headphones, they seem to be the unsung heroes with a 100% weekly engagement rate among their owners.

Photo of a man with an array of headphones

And then there are those humble helpers like ladders and power drills. Despite their potential to assist in heroic DIY feats, 60% of ladder owners admit to calling upon them only a few times a year at the most.

They stand ready, waiting for that light bulb to flicker or the picture frame that needs hanging.

Photo of a metal ladder leaning against a wall

Some other highlights:

Items with high ownership and high usage (the things we really love):

  • 89% of people own some type of Vacuum Cleaner, Dyson, Roomba, etc and they are used quite a lot: 40% use them every day and 30% every week (we are thinking pet owners?!)
  • 89% of people own brooms, mops, buckets, and 70% of those use them every week. 10% use them every day…
  • Microwave Ovens, Toaster Ovens or Air Fryers are owned by 84% of us, and ⅔ use them almost every day.
  • Around 60% of the people own Food Processors, Blenders, or Juicers, but these heroes use them every single day…good job!

Photo of a man gazing deeply at a blender

Items with high ownership but low usage (the things we want to love, but we actually don’t):

  • Tools like hammers, screwdrivers, wrenches, etc are owned by almost everyone (93%) but used only a few times per year.
  • Half of the people own bicycles or scooters, but they only use them a couple of times a month at the most.
  • 64% own power drills, but ¾ of those only use the tool a couple of times a year at the most (yeah, we know who we are…).

Photo of a man gripping a power drill in each hand

Items with low ownership but high usage (the things we secretly love):

  • Just 30% of people have Smart Watches, but they use them every week.
  • Only 11% of people own a Pressure Washer or a Lawn Mower, but they use them almost every week!

Photo of a  woman riding a lawn mower holding a pressure washer

Items with low ownership and low usage (the things we don’t love…anymore?)

  • Skateboards & Rollerblades are owned only by 18% of people, and they use them maybe a few times a year
  • Woodwind Instruments such as Flutes, Clarinets & Saxophones only appear in 16% of homes…but no one seems to use them anymore 🙁

A mound of skateboards, rollerblades and musical instruments

The reasons we hold onto these seldom-used items are as diverse as the items themselves.

Some echo the eternal hope of “I’ll use it someday,” while others are just waiting for us to overcome our inertia and do something with them (or at least get rid of the clutter).

The ripple effect? Well, besides the obvious dent in our wallets, there’s a space crunch, and a quiet burden that each unused item adds to our living environment.

So, the next time the glossy image of a gadget or the allure of a new hobby calls out to you, take a moment and think if it’s better to buy or borrow…ask the silent items in your home whether you need more company in the ‘rarely used’ club…

Your wallet and your basement will thank you.

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