Does Unplugging Appliances Actually Save You Money?

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Does Unplugging Appliances Actually Save You Money?

In today’s modern home, there are electronic devices and appliances in just about every room. From the kitchen to the bedroom, and even the bathroom, you have a host of small gadgets throughout your home. The coffee maker, the toaster, mobile phones and their chargers, just to name a few — if they are unplugged while not in use, the savings add up over the year.

Energy Vampires and Phantom Loads

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that approximately 10 percent of the average household electric bill is because there are appliances plugged in, yet not being used. These “energy vampires'' draw small amounts of power all day, every day. Even when you’re not using them. The energy costs of plugged-in appliances can add up over the year. Unplugging devices, like phone chargers and kitchen countertop appliances, could save you up to about $150 a year. Think of it as a free bill for a month once a year!

When we think of vampires and phantoms, we don’t think of anything friendly. As the name can imply, these energy vampires, or phantom loads, are just about any device or appliance that expends energy even while it is not powered on. An appliance that constantly draws one watt of electricity can cost up to a dollar per year. Although these items do not necessarily use a lot of energy, if you have enough of them, you’ll see that they typically add up over time, whether that’s over a month or a year. Think of it as a hidden savings account — whether you spend it on something fun or not, it’s like free money. Read more about saving on your electric bill in one of our other blogs.

Be Like Buffy: Identify and Slay Your Vampires

Now that we’ve introduced you to the idea of a phantom load aka energy vampire, let’s actually define them because they are everywhere throughout your home. In your kitchen alone, you probably have more than 5 appliances or devices plugged in right now that don’t need to be. But you love the accurate time on the coffee maker, don’t you? Yeah, me too, but not only is it an energy vampire, it is safer to unplug these small kitchen appliances. Other things you might find in your kitchen are the blender, a food processor, and the microwave. Yes, I said it: the microwave. Take the time to unplug all these things after they have been used. If that’s too much to consider, maybe just for the night while you’re asleep.

The biggest culprits in your home are entertainment systems. The television, the video game console, audio systems, and DVRs can be grouped together and plugged into a power strip/surge protector. Rather than unplugging all these things, you just hit the switch off and you’re on your way to savings. Unplugging these types of appliances can also protect your home from power surges and electrical fires. Having a surge protector for these devices: computer, laptop, modem, TVs, scanner, printer, phone and other device chargers, video game systems, audio systems. More expensive but worthwhile in the long run, smart power strips since they know when your devices and other electronics are plugged in or unplugged. You can read some simple tips here to get more ideas.

Being mindful of what is plugged in and what is not seems like a part-time job. However, once you get used to unplugging your energy vampires, it is easy to keep doing it. Whether it’s at night, or before you leave the house, you will save money. In addition, being aware ofwhat uses the most energy can also help you save money. Those big appliances, like the washer and dryer, do take a lot of energy to run. So, maybe cut down on your wash loads, or hang your clothes out to dry. Not the most convenient, sure, but there is nothing quite like that smell of freshly hung laundry.

Here’s a helpful list of appliances and other phantom loads you can unplug to save money:

  • Microwave
  • Coffee maker
  • Electric tea kettle
  • Video game systems
  • TV
  • Phone chargers (if they’re not actively charging your phone)
  • Computer monitors
  • Modems
  • Scanner/Printer

Don’t let these ghouls fool you… and save money by unplugging those phantom loads.

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