Unplugging appliances to save money – can it really be worth the effort? Recently, I had a salesperson at the electronics store scoff at me because I strongly recommend that people unplug to save electricity and money. He insisted that you save maybe ten dollars a year by fanatically uplugging. I disagree very strongly!
If it’s not in use can it really be using that much electricity? Well, you’d be surprised at just how much electricity you can save simply by unplugging those unused appliances. To be honest, you could even unplug some that you are using … have you ever thought about unplugging the refrigerator?
What Draws the Most Electricity
Your TV and coffee maker which are powered down individually might not draw that much energy, but all of these electrical appliances together are still drawing power and can add up to 10% to your electric bill each month. And in general the biggest drains on your power, even when they are powered down, is any device with a remote control.
Also anything with an external power supply, a charger (for your phone or gaming device), anything with a continuous display (an alarm clock, microwave, or oven with a digital clock), laptop computers, and cable boxes (especially with an integrated DVR) are all huge offenders.
They use an average of 9 watts to 44 watts of electricity even when powered down.
Older appliances will use less power when not in use because they aren’t doing anything.
A washing machine without a digital display has nothing to power when not in use. But of course the older appliances then have the unfortunate fate of not being energy efficient when they are in use.
The drawing of power when appliances are not in use – something that we call phantom power drain – is something that is beginning to become a thing of the past.
Many newer TVs and electronics are drawing less energy when turned off because of energy star guidelines. That’s a good thing – if you’ve updated all of your appliances to the best Energy Star versions. (I haven’t. Have you?)
How to Know Which Appliances to Unplug
Obviously you can’t unplug everything when it’s not in use.
Your alarm clock is probably something you need to keep plugged in at all times unless you switch to a manual alarm clock or use your smartphone as an alarm. Your cable box with the DVR in it is set to record things at certain times, so unplugging it might cause you to miss your scheduled recordings.
Your refrigerator and programmable coffeemaker are obviously appliances that are completely useless should you unplug when they aren’t in use – in particular your refrigerator. For these appliances the best way to save on your energy cost is to make sure you check the energy star ratings. You will need to check for the standby ratings on the item before you purchase it.
Of course there is one other option – get rid of your refrigerator. Yes, you can unplug the refrigerator to save electricity, and you would really save a lot. Or at least downsize to a much smaller one.
Yes, it’s possible. We lived without a refrigerator for years.
But the TV and DVD player and your computer are all items which can be unplugged when not in use.
Probably the easiest way to accomplish unplugging these items is to have them attached to a power strip which has an on/off switch. Flip the switch when you’re done using the items. And with a quick flip of the switch you can power everything back up.
We spent three years off-grid and counted every watt of power. Because of this, we turned off everything at night. Yes, quite literally, we turned off all the power for the house! Obviously, we didn’t have any appliances that need to draw energy continuously.
Take some time and learn more about the Energy Hogs that are draining power in your home.
Even now that we’re living back on grid, we walk around the house checking that nothing is turned on. When the weather is warm, we even turn off our furnace completely. Otherwise, it kicks in every few hours to keep hot water in the pipes, and that’s a silly waste of fuel.
We don’t need to keep hot water flowing all night just in case someone wakes up and wants a midnight shower, and you probably don’t, either!
One thing we have learned, if you are turning off your entire computer system, is to turn them back on in a certain order.
First, turn your modem back on.
Then, once it has booted up completely, turn your router back on.
Finally, turn on your computer.
You likely aren’t going to see huge savings, not unless you turn off your hot water heater when it’s not in use and if you decide to go without a fridge, but you should see a 5-10% decrease in your electric bill if you begin turning off all appliances and devices when they are not in active use. And just think about what would happen if all of your neighbors cut back and unplugged from the wall. The effect it would have on the environment as a whole would truly be impressive.