How to Save Energy by Unplugging Rarely Used Appliances
Why Unplugging Appliances Saves Energy
Many people are unaware that appliances continue to consume energy even when turned off or not in use. This is known as phantom load or vampire energy. By unplugging appliances that are not in frequent use, you can significantly reduce your energy consumption and save money on your electricity bill.
Some examples of appliances that may continue to draw power when switched off include:
- Televisions – Many TVs are never fully powered down and continue using electricity for quick start-up and to power external lights and speakers.
- Computers and monitors – Desktop computers and monitors can use electricity even when shut down to power external lights and readiness modes.
- Microwaves – Microwaves use power when idle for display clocks and keypad lights.
- Coffee makers – Many coffee maker models constantly use energy for display clocks and warming features.
- Chargers – Cell phone chargers, laptop chargers and other chargers draw power when still plugged into an outlet, even with no device attached.
How Much Energy Can Unplugging Appliances Save?
The amount of energy that can be saved by unplugging appliances depends on the specific devices, but savings can really add up over time. Here are some estimates on potential energy savings:
- Unplugging a single home computer when not in use can save 30-150 kWh per year.
- For a home entertainment system, unplugging when not in use can save 20-200 kWh per year.
- Unplugging unused kitchen appliances, like toasters and microwaves, can save 30-50 kWh per year for each appliance.
- Eliminating vampire loads from all appliances and electronics around the home is estimated to save the average household 200-400 kWh annually.
Based on average electricity rates, unplugging just 5 rarely used appliances could save $30-60 per year. Unplugging all unused appliances can save well over $100 for an average home annually.
Tips for Successfully Unplugging Appliances
Here are some useful tips to effectively unplug appliances and maximize energy savings:
- Identify vampire loads – Walk through your home and feel for warm appliances that may be consuming energy unnecessarily. Prioritize unplugging these.
- Unplug battery chargers – Always unplug battery chargers like phone and laptop chargers when not actively charging.
- Use power strips – Plug appliances into power strips that can easily be switched off to disconnect power to multiple devices.
- Unplug before lengthy vacations – Unplug all unnecessary appliances before leaving home for more than a couple days to maximize savings.
- Create reminders – Leave notes or set calendar reminders to remind you to periodically unplug appliances not in regular use.
- Share with others – Let family members know which devices should be unplugged to get everyone on board.
Common Concerns About Unplugging Appliances
Some common concerns people have about unplugging appliances include:
- Forgetting to unplug – As you form a routine, unplugging unused devices will become habit. Post reminder notes to ease the transition.
- Difficulty reaching plugs – Use power strips and extension cords with accessible switches to easily cut power to multiple devices.
- Losing device settings – Many appliances like TVs and computers will retain settings even when unplugged for extended periods.
- Needing to reprogram clocks/calendar – Appliances like microwaves may need to be reprogrammed if unplugged for a long time. Ease back into routines.
- Minor inconvenience – Developing new habits to unplug devices takes small effort, but leads to satisfying savings.
With some discipline, unplugging rarely used appliances can become easy habit and provide significant reductions in home energy waste and electricity costs. The small inconvenience is outweighed by the savings benefits.
Unplugging appliances that are used infrequently or remain plugged in when “off” can lead to substantial savings on home electricity bills. Small actions like unplugging chargers, entertainment systems and kitchen gadgets that are not in regular use can eliminate vampire energy losses and wasted electricity. Just be sure to get in the habit of unplugging devices and create helpful reminders. With some diligence, unplugging appliances is one of the easiest ways to reduce energy waste and trim utility costs in any home.