Turn Off, Tune Out, Unplug: Avoid These Energy Vampires

Some appliances and devices continue to draw power even after you turn them off, and that may be a bigger problem than you think. According to the Department of Energy, electric  power consumed by products in standby mode accounts for 5 to 10% of residential energy use — and that could equate to hundreds of dollars each year on your electric bill. But once you’re aware, it’s easy to spot these energy vampires and fight back against them.

Not in use? Unplug and repeat.

There’s one foolproof way to fight back against phantom energy drain, and it’s not simply clicking the off button. Instead, unplug any devices that you’re not actively using. Some common devices we leave plugged into our bathroom and home office outlets include: hair dryers, stereo amplifiers, computers, and your television. There are certain appliances, like your refrigerator, that need to stay plugged in. But many don’t.

Invest in a smarter power strip.

Most modern power strips include a switch. Some smart power strips automatically shut down appliances that go into standby mode. Too often, homeowners simply load up the extra outlets on their power strip and leave it on all day. To make sure the connected devices aren’t running up your electric bill, either invest in a smart strip that does the work for you, or turn the switch to off when you’re not using the devices it’s powering. If it sounds simple, that’s because it is.

Unplug the TVs you rarely use.

Most of us have the TV in the bedroom, kitchen, or living room we watch nearly every day. Then there’s the one in the guest bedroom or basement that hasn’t been turned on since your Aunt Carol came to visit over the last Thanksgiving you hosted before the pandemic. You can plug the extra set back in before Aunt Carol returns next year. In the meantime, let the plug dangle.

That charger is still charging.

Many of us are guilty of leaving cell phone chargers plugged into the outlet all day long. Even when your phone isn’t plugged in, that charger can draw from 0.1 to 0.5 watts per hour. It may not seem like a lot, but it adds up over time. Yes, you may have experienced the dread that comes with a cell phone you thought was charging all night only to wake up and realize the cord was disconnected. But regularly disconnecting the charger will get you in the habit of reconnecting it only when you’re using it. We promise. You can do it. 

Throughout 2023, we’re going to share a bunch of helpful advice for homeowners to cut down on their energy consumption, reduce their carbon footprint, and save money by lowering their electric bills. It won’t always be as simple as flipping a switch or unplugging a device you’re not using. But some of it will. We hope you’ll bookmark our home page, follow our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter profiles, and stay tuned for more helpful tips and tricks to reduce your energy use.