If you’re like the typical American, you’ve probably got about 40 household appliances that you routinely leave plugged in – even when these devices aren’t actively being used.
But did you know that even when they’re turned off, appliances and electronic gadgets gobble up energy, costing you money?
The average U.S. household spends about $1,900 a year on energy costs, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. And the DOE says that anywhere from 5% to 10% of your residential electricity is sapped by devices that are plugged in 24 hours a day.Experts say that most plugged-in appliances generally only eat up low levels of electricity, just about a watt or two. But some electronics – like computers and TVs – consume a lot more power, even when they’re just in standby mode. And it’s the cumulative effect of having so many devices plugged in around the clock that can really add up – hurting your efforts to be eco-friendly and cost conscious.
So here’s a quick rundown of a dozen household appliances and electronics you should unplug to save both energy and money:
- Desktop computers
- Laptop computers
- DVD players and VCRs
- Cable TV boxes
- Cordless phones
- Stereos and radios
- iPods and electronic gadgets sapping energy from a plug-in transformer
Things like your DVR and alarm clock need to stay on for obvious reasons — you don’t want to miss a TV program you meant to tape or wake up late for work because your alarm clock wasn’t plugged in.
Alternatives to Unplugging Household Appliances
While it’s smart to unplug to save money, some devices don’t lend themselves well to being constantly unplugged and then re-plugged. Take your cable box, for instance. Unplugging it means the cable box may need a few minutes to reprogram once you plug it back in. That’s kind of a pain, especially if your box doesn’t reboot itself automatically and you have to do a manual reconfiguration of everything.
And what about your washer and dryer? It could certainly help to unplug those mammoth appliances, too. But depending on where and how your washer and dryer are set up, it may not be easy – or even possible – to push those heavy-duty appliancesto the side and get to the plugs on a daily basis.
These are just a few reasons why it can be a hassle to go around unplugging devices and then plugging them up again the next day. Besides, who has time to do that every day? So here’s another option: Use a power strip for various devices, and simply flip the power strip switch, rather than unplug everything.
Another tip: Opt for devices with built-in, energy-saving features. For example, some cell phone chargers “unplug” internally when no phone is connected. Also, various retailers offer plug adapters or power strips that only use power for a pre-set time (like three or six hours) After the pre-determined time ends, these gadgets stop eating electricity.
Finally, if you don’t want to go through the trouble of unplugging electronics around your house, think about ways to tweak your energy use. For instance, say you and the kids are big Wii fans. If you keep the Wi-Fi connection active on your Nintendo Wii even while the game isn’t in use, it’s sucking up about 10 watts of power. But by turning off the Wi-Fi connection, your energy usage drops to just 1.3 watts.