How to Reduce Your Energy Bills By Unplugging Seldom-Used Appliances
I know we all want to save money on our energy bills these days. One simple way I’ve found to do that is by unplugging appliances I don’t use very often. This allows me to stop those appliances from drawing power when not in use, which can lead to meaningful savings over time.
Identify Appliances to Unplug
The first step is to take a look around my home and identify appliances that aren’t used daily or even weekly. Some top candidates include:
- Kitchen appliances: Bread machine, ice cream maker, food processor, juicer, microwave (if you don’t use it daily), toaster oven.
- Home entertainment: DVD player, stereo system, speakers, TVs in spare rooms.
- Home office: Printer, scanner, laminator, label maker.
- Miscellaneous: Hot tub, pool pump, electric blanket, space heaters, humidifier.
I don’t want to unplug my refrigerator or primary TV as those are in constant use. But many other appliances can be “energy vampires,” slowly draining power even when switched off.
Calculate the Energy Savings
To estimate how much unplugging certain devices could save, I looked up their average wattages and estimated annual cost to run:
- Microwave: 1500 watts, $18/year
- DVD player: 20 watts, $3/year
- Printer: 50 watts, $5/year
- Bread machine: 200 watts, $7/year
Based on leaving those unused appliances plugged in 24/7, I calculated around $30/year in energy costs. Unplugging them when not in use could recapture those savings. Your potential savings will vary based on your local electricity rate.
Safely Unplug Appliances
When unplugging appliances, I make sure to follow safety best practices:
- Unplug from the wall outlet – Don’t just switch off a device. Removing power from the outlet ensures no draw.
- Pull the plug, not cord – Tugging the cord can damage wiring inside. Grip the plug securely.
- Wrap cords neatly – Coil loose cords to avoid tripping hazards.
- Label plugs – Use tape to identify which cord belongs to each device.
I also unplug appliances before going on vacation to limit fire risks. And I make sure my surge protectors aren’t overloaded.
Remember to Plug Back In
The main difficulty with this method is remembering to plug devices back in when I want to use them. To avoid frustration, I post reminder notes about what’s unplugged on cabinets near the outlets. I also plug devices back in on a trial basis occasionally to see if they still get frequent use.
Over time, I’ve eliminated several appliances that became obsolete. But items like bread machines and printers still get occasional use in my home. So I diligently unplug and replug them when needed.
Consider Smart Power Strips
If remembering to unplug devices is still a challenge, I recommend getting “smart” power strips. These sense when a primary device like a TV is switched off and automatically cut power to secondary devices like DVD players and game consoles. This ensures those secondary devices aren’t draining power when the main device isn’t in use.
Enjoy Your Energy Savings
Unplugging unused appliances is an easy “set it and forget it” approach to reducing home energy use. Over time, it can generate significant savings on your electricity bill with minimal effort. Just be diligent about unplugging items, use labels and reminders, and plug appliances back in when needed. With smart power strips as a backup option, you can enjoy lower energy bills with little disruption to your normal routine.