Unplug These Appliances and Watch Your Electric Bill Drop

This story is part of Home TipsCNET’s collection of practical advice for getting the most out of your home, inside and out.

Your domestic appliances can actually gobble up electricity even when not in use. From your laptop charger to your Printermany common devices still perform certain functions when plugged in, adding unnecessary costs to your electricity bill.

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Luckily, there’s an easy fix: just unplug devices when you’re not using them. Unplugging them will stop the energy from silently draining and increasing your bills, saving you both electricity and electricity money in the long run.

But how much money does unplugging devices actually save? Are the energy savings you get from unplugging devices even significant? And is it worth the hassle of constantly plugging and unplugging devices? Below we’ll explore why unplugging devices can save you money, how much you could save, and how to make it easier to disable connected devices. (We also have tips on how to Lower your water billthe best temperature to set your thermostat for this summer to save moneyand whether it is cheaper to buy groceries online than in the store.)

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How can unplugging your devices save you money?

It seems counterintuitive to unplug devices. After all, they’re gone, so why would they suck up energy?

In fact, according to Energy.gov, your devices are still using energy even if they’re turned off but still plugged in. Regardless of whether the device is off or in standby mode, some of the worst culprits are:

  • A device that may still be consuming energy in the form of lights that stay on or other indicators that show the device is off
  • Computers that simply went into sleep mode
  • Chargers that continue to draw power even when the device is unplugged
  • Media players that constantly consume power, especially those that may still be checking for updates in the background
  • Phones with displays that show when not actively used, such as B. cordless phones
  • New smart home appliances like refrigerators, washers and dryers with always-on displays, internet connectivity and electronic controls

The energy consumed by these devices when they are not actively used is often referred to as standby power, but it also has other names such as phantom load, shadow load, idle current or even vampire power.

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Power and money savings by controlling standby power

Many people are shocked when they realize how much standby power can add up. According to the US Department of Energy, standby power accounts for 5 to 10% of household energy use. Disconnecting devices could save an average household up to $100 a year.

However, how much you save depends on how many devices you use and how you use them. For example, an educational experiment at Colorado State University found that a radio/CD player/cassette player combo consumed 4 watts continuously whether it was in use or not. Unplugging when not in use would save 100 times the power over the lifetime of the device.

A study by the Natural Resources Defense Council found that consumers would save a total of $8 billion annually and avoid 64 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity per year by reducing exposure to always-on devices. It also has environmental benefits, like avoiding 44 million tons of carbon pollution. The NRDC estimated the cost of always-on devices to average up to $165 per household per year.

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How to control standby power

The first step, of course, is to stake out everything that is not actively used or not used often. An example of devices that could easily be unplugged are televisions and set-top boxes in guest rooms. It’s also generally easy to unplug media players, like a radio or CD player, when they’re not in use. When you unplug your device, it can also help to get used to unplugging the charger as well. You might also be surprised at how many devices we’ve connected that we don’t even use anymore. Examples could be old mobile phones, old media players or lamps that are decorative rather than functional.

However, unplugging and plugging it back in can become a real hassle, especially if your outlets are in hard-to-reach places. When the outlet is inaccessible, it becomes difficult to keep up. So you can also set up ways to make the process of disconnecting the phantom load more automated. You can connect devices to power strips. This way, one press of the power button can turn off multiple devices. You can also get timers for plugging devices into or smart sockets, so you can automate when power is plugged into a device. For example, you can set the time for the TV to be powered so that it is only plugged in during peak periods such as evenings or weekends.

You can also try to get Energy Star Products. Many of these products have lower standby power consumption than products that are not Energy Star certified.

More resources to save electricity

As utility bills grow higher and more erratic over time, finding ways to save on electricity bills is more important than ever. For example, in addition to unplugging the devices at home, you can check out our guide turn off lights When not in use. Another important way to influence your electricity/heating bills for the better is to know them ideal temperature You should adjust to your home. You can also read our guide on quick tips to save on your gas and electricity bills, for example by turning down your water heater or changing your air filters.

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