Even if you aren’t actively using an appliance or device in your home, that doesn’t mean it isn’t consuming energy. Many devices in your home, including your printer, laptop charger, and coffee maker, can still run certain functions when they are plugged in. This means that they use electricity, increasing your monthly electric bill. There is an easy way to solve this problem: Unplug appliances when they are not in use. By unplugging appliances, you can stop energy silently draining away and increase your bills. This will save both money and electricity.
How much money can unplugging appliances really save you? Are the energy savings from unplugging appliances really that significant? Is it worth the inconvenience of constantly plugging in and unplugging appliances?
We’ll show you how unplugging appliances can save you money, what you could be saving and how to make it easier to disable plugged-in appliances. We also have tips for how to reduce your water bill, what temperature you should set your thermostat to in the summer to save money, and the most efficient way to wash your laundry to reduce utility bills.
How can you save money by unplugging appliances?
Unplugging appliances seems counterintuitive. They’re not on, so why would they consume energy?
According to Energy.gov, appliances can still use energy even if they are switched off, but they still need to be plugged in. The worst culprits are:
- Devices that use energy to display the device’s status on permanently-on lights or other displays.
Computers put in sleep mode were not harmed.
- Chargers that draw power even when the device isn’t connected
- Media players who constantly draw power, particularly those that might still scan the background for updates.
- Displays that are visible even when the phone is not being used, such as cordless phones
- Smart home appliances such as refrigerators, washers, and dryers are now available with always-on displays, internet connectivity, and electronic controls.
- Standby power is the energy that these devices use even when they are not being used actively. However, it can also be called phantom loads, shadow loads or idle current.
Controlling standby power can save you money and electricity
It is shocking to see how much standby power can cost. According to the US Department of Energy, standby power is responsible for between 5% and 10% of residential energy consumption. The average household could save up to $100 a year by unplugging their devices.
How many devices you use and how you use them could impact how much money you save. A Colorado State University educational experiment found that a combination radio/CD player/tape-player used 4 watts continuously, regardless of whether it was being used. It would be 100 times more efficient to unplug it when not in use, over the life of the device.
The Natural Resources Defense Council (PDF), published a study that found that consumers could save $8 billion each year by reducing their use of always-on devices and reduce their need for 64 billion kilowatt hours of electricity annually. It has also been shown to have environmental benefits such as preventing the emission of 44 million tons of carbon dioxide. The NRDC estimates that the annual cost of an always-on device could be as high as $165 per household.
How to manage standby power
First, unplug any device that isn’t being used or is not in use often. Televisions and set-top boxes that are located in guest rooms can be easily unplugged. It is also easy to unplug media players that are not being used, such as a radio or CD player. It can be helpful to unplug your charger when you take your device from its charger. It might surprise you to learn how many devices are plugged in that we do not use. You could think of old wireless phones, media players, or lamps that are more decorative rather than functional.
It can be tedious to unplug and plug in everything, especially if the outlets are hard-to-reach. It will be difficult to maintain the current flow if the outlet is not accessible. You can set up automated ways to cut phantom loads. It is possible to plug devices into power strips. This allows you to turn off multiple devices with one click of the power switch button. Timers can be used to connect devices to smart outlets or plug them into. This allows you to automate when power is on. You might, for example, set the timer to turn on the TV’s power during peak times such as evenings and weekends.
Energy Star products are also available. These products have a lower standby power consumption than those not rated Energy Star.
There are more resources to save electricity
It’s becoming more important than ever to reduce your electric bills as power costs rise and become more unpredictable. You can also unplug all devices in your home. Knowing the ideal temperature for your home is another way to reduce your heating and electric bills.