How to Reduce Your Energy Bills By Unplugging Seldom-Used Appliances

How to Reduce Your Energy Bills By Unplugging Seldom-Used Appliances


With energy bills continuing to rise, many homeowners are looking for ways to reduce their monthly expenses. One of the easiest and most effective ways to accomplish this is by unplugging appliances that are not in frequent use. This simple habit can lead to significant savings over time. In this comprehensive guide, I will provide tips on identifying seldom-used appliances in your home and explain the benefits of unplugging them.

Which Appliances To Unplug

When deciding which appliances to unplug, focus on the ones that are only used occasionally or seasonally. Here are some top candidates to consider:

Second Refrigerator or Freezer

Many households have a spare refrigerator or freezer in the garage or basement. However, these secondary appliances can use a surprising amount of energy even when running mostly empty. Unplugging them can save 100-200 kWh per month.

Entertainment Centers

Devices like TVs, DVD players, game consoles and stereo systems are notorious “vampire” loads. This means they slowly drain power even when switched off. Entire entertainment centers can cost $10-30 per month in standby energy use alone. Simply unplugging them when not in use can help slash these costs.

Coffee Makers

Coffee makers consume power to keep the carafe heated. Unplugging the appliance in between uses can save around $1 per month. This may not seem like much but it adds up, especially for households with multiple coffee stations.

Computer Accessories

External hard drives, routers, modems, printers and other computer accessories often use energy even when idle. Unplugging them when your computer is shut down can save 5-10 kWh monthly.

Vacuum Cleaners

Vacuums with onboard chargers continue drawing power when left plugged in. Unplugging between uses prevents this phantom load. Savings will vary based on the model but likely around $1 per month.

Seasonal Appliances

Any appliances used only part of the year like portable heaters, fans and dehumidifiers should be unplugged when not needed. These items can use hundreds of kWh annually so unplugging them off-season is essential.

How Much Energy Can Be Saved

The amount of energy saved by unplugging unused appliances depends on the specific items, but the savings do add up. Here are some estimates:

  • Unplugging a secondary refrigerator/freezer saves around 1,200-2,400 kWh per year – Perhaps $150-300 annually.
  • Eliminating entertainment center standby loads can save 300-900 kWh per year – Around $30-90 annually.
  • Unplugging smaller appliances like coffee makers, phone chargers, and printers saves 100-200 kWh per year – Approximately $10-20 annually.

For an average home that unplugs several unused appliances, total savings could exceed 500 kWh annually, providing over $50 in annual savings. The more appliances you identify to unplug, the higher your potential savings.

Benefits Of Unplugging Seldom-Used Appliances

Unplugging appliances provides more advantages than just saving money on utilities. Here are some key benefits:

  • Reduces Energy Waste – Eliminates phantom and standby power draws when appliances are idle. This unnecessary energy waste accounts for 5-10% of home energy bills.

  • Saves Electricity – Depends on the appliances unplugged but most homes can save hundreds of kWh per year, which translates into significant dollar savings.

  • Extends Appliance Life – Electronic components degrade faster when left plugged in. Unplugging appliances helps prevent unnecessary wear and tear.

  • Increases Safety – Appliances that are plugged in generate heat even when not used. Unplugging them reduces fire risk from overheating.

  • Provides Peace of Mind – Knowing your appliances won’t slowly drain power when idle or be susceptible to surges when plugged in but turned off.

  • Easy To Implement – Unplugging appliances just takes a few seconds. No special skills or tools needed. Just identify seldom-used items and unplug them when not needed.

Tips For Unplugging Effectively

Follow these tips to make unplugging appliances an easy habit:

  • Label Plugs – Use tape or tags to identify which appliance each plug corresponds to. This makes re-plugging simpler.

  • Unplug From Power Strip – Use one power strip to connect multiple appliances. Switching off the strip unplugs them all at once.

  • Set Reminders – Post notes on appliances or set calendar reminders to prompt unplugging items by season or date.

  • Share Responsibility – Instruct family members which appliances they are responsible for unplugging. Sharing the task makes it easier.

  • Unplug Before Vacations – Unplug all unnecessary appliances before extended trips. Why waste energy while you’re away?

  • Assess Usage – Occasionally review your appliances and their usage to determine if any new items should be added to the unplug list.

Bottom Line

Unplugging unused appliances is one of the fastest and easiest ways to reduce home energy bills. The money saved can quickly add up when multiple appliances are identified. With minimal effort, any household can implement this money-saving habit and take control of their electricity costs. Try unplugging just a few items and see the energy savings start rolling in.