How to Save Energy By Unplugging Seldom-Used Appliances
Many people don’t realize how much energy appliances use when plugged in, even when not in active use. Simply unplugging certain electronics and appliances when you’re not using them can make a noticeable difference in your electricity bill. Here’s a guide on how to save energy by unplugging seldom-used appliances in your home.
Identify Appliances to Unplug
The first step is to look around your home and identify electronics and appliances that you don’t use regularly. Some top candidates for unplugging include:
- Kitchen appliances: Coffee makers, toasters, microwaves, and blenders are often used just a few times a week. Unplug them when not in use.
- Entertainment devices: TVs, gaming consoles, stereo systems, and cable/satellite boxes draw power even in standby mode. Unplug them when not watching or listening.
- Computers and chargers: Desktop computers, monitors, laptops, printers, phone chargers, and other accessories consume energy when left plugged in and idle.
- Miscellaneous: Items like fans, space heaters, and electric toothbrushes are also good to unplug when not needed.
Focus on electronics and appliances that you use infrequently or irregularly. Items that need continuous power like refrigerators and freezers should stay plugged in.
Understand Phantom Load
Unplugging unused devices saves energy wasted from phantom load (also called vampire power). Phantom load refers to the electricity consumed by appliances and electronics even when switched “off” or not in active use.
Some key facts about phantom load:
- Most appliances and devices draw at least some power when plugged in. They use energy even in standby mode.
- Total phantom load can amount to 5-10% of an average household’s electricity bill.
- Many newer appliances have greater standby power use than older models.
- Devices with digital displays and clocks use more phantom load than simple mechanical devices.
By unplugging unused electronics and appliances, you avoid unnecessary phantom load.
Use Smart Power Strips
For convenience, use smart power strips to unplug multiple devices easily. These specialty power strips have automated controls to cut power to outlets when they detect a master device has been switched off.
For example, you can plug a computer and monitor into a smart strip and when the computer is off, it automatically cuts power to the monitor too.
Key smart strip features:
- Master/control outlet: Cuts power to other outlets based on device plugged into master outlet.
- Remote control: Allows turning off outlets with wireless remote instead of reaching behind furniture.
- Timer: Can program strips to cut power on schedule during certain hours.
Smart strips make it quick and easy to eliminate phantom load.
Calculate Energy Savings
The amount of energy saved by unplugging appliances depends on:
- Device usage: Time spent plugged in and turned on versus off.
- Power draw: Wattage used by specific devices when idle versus active.
- Electricity cost: Your utility’s rate per kilowatt hour (kWh) of power.
Here is an example calculation:
- Device: Old 50″ plasma TV
- Idle Power Draw: 150 watts
- Time Unplugged: 10 hours/day
- Electricity Rate: $0.12/kWh
Savings = Power Draw x Time Unplugged x Electricity Rate
= 150 watts x 10 hours/day x $0.12/kWh
Unplugging this TV for 10 hours a day saves $1.80 per day, or $54 per month! Do this for multiple seldom-used appliances and savings really add up.
When unplugging devices, follow these electrical safety tips:
- Never forcefully pull cord to unplug – grasp the plug directly.
- Unplug by gripping plastic base of plug, don’t tug on cord.
- Keep cords safely out of reach of pets or children when unplugged.
- Do not leave appliances where cords can get pinched behind furniture.
- Avoid overloading outlets with too many plugs.
Properly unplugging devices takes a little extra care but is important for safety.
Make Unplugging a Habit
To maximize energy savings from unplugging appliances, make it part of your daily routine:
When leaving a room – Unplug lights, fans, TVs, computers, and other electronics before leaving.
Before going to bed – Do a sweep of the house and unplug unused appliances in the kitchen, living room, office, etc.
Before long vacations – Unplug most electronics before extended trips, but leave a few lights on for security.
Buy smart power strips – Use these to conveniently eliminate phantom load from multimedia centers, home offices, and other areas.
With regular unplugging habits, you can save from 5% to 10% off home energy costs while also extending appliance lifespan.