How to Save Money by Unplugging Appliances When Not in Use

How to Save Money by Unplugging Appliances When Not in Use

How to Save Money by Unplugging Appliances When Not in Use

Unplugging appliances when not in use is an easy way to reduce your energy costs and save money on your utility bills. Here is a comprehensive guide on how unplugging appliances can lead to significant savings over time.

Why Unplugging Appliances Saves Money

Electrical appliances continue to draw power even when switched off. This is known as phantom load or standby power. Some appliances have light indicators and digital displays that consume a small amount of electricity. Others need power to keep circuitry and internal components running.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, phantom load accounts for 5-10% of an average household’s electricity bill. This can add up to 100-200 dollars annually. Unplugging appliances stops this phantom drainage, leading to savings.

How Much Money Can You Save?

The amount of potential savings depends on the types of appliances you have and your usage patterns. Here are some estimates on savings from unplugging common household electronics:

  • Computers and monitors – Unplugging them when not in use can save $30-60 per year. Desktops and older monitors tend to use more idle power.
  • Game consoles – When powered down completely, Xbox and Playstation consoles can save $15-35 yearly.
  • Printers – Unplugging when not printing saves around $10-25 annually. Inkjet printers left plugged in use $10 worth of electricity per year.
  • Cable boxes – Unpluggingsecondary boxes when not being used could save $10-20 per box every year.
  • Microwaves – Completely switching them off saves $3-10 per year.

In most homes, diligently unplugging appliances could save $100-300 per year. Completely eliminating phantom load can save 10% on an electricity bill.

Appliances to Focus On Unplugging

Any appliance plugged into an outlet uses some energy, but the following tend to have high standby power drain:

  • Televisions and home theater systems
  • Desktop computers and monitors
  • Laptop chargers and AC adapters
  • Video game consoles
  • Printers, scanners, and peripherals
  • Kitchen appliances like microwaves, coffee makers, and toaster ovens
  • Battery chargers and phone chargers

Prioritize unplugging these appliances first to maximize savings. Even better, connect appliances like TVs, cable boxes, and game consoles to a power strip so you can turn them all off at once.

Tips to Remember for Unplugging Appliances

Follow these tips to safely and effectively unplug appliances:

  • Completely turn off appliances – Use switches, remote controls, or buttons to power down devices before unplugging.
  • Unplug from power strips – Switch off or unplug power strips to ensure no electricity flows.
  • Unplug chargers when not in use – Chargers for phones, laptops, and other devices aren’t needed when their batteries are full.
  • Consider smart power strips – They cut idle power draw when devices go into standby mode.
  • Unplug appliances before vacations – TVs, desktop computers, and other electronics don’t need to be plugged in when you’re away for days.

Adopting vigilant unplugging habits takes just a little effort but can pay off in considerable energy savings over time!

Other Ways to Reduce Phantom Load

  • Use advanced power strips to cut standby power draw
  • Choose ENERGY STAR certified appliances with low standby usage
  • Switch to LED light bulbs which use a fraction of the energy of incandescent bulbs
  • Install lighting occupancy sensors so lights turn off automatically when not in use
  • Set computers, monitors, and other devices to enter sleep mode when not active
  • Replace outdated and inefficient electronics with newer ENERGY STAR models

Combining these tactics along with unplugging appliances allows you to comprehensively address phantom load and maximize energy savings.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it safe to regularly unplug and plug in appliances?

Yes, as long as you completely power down appliances before unplugging them. Regular unplugging and plugging in poses no safety risks. Electrical surges only occur when plugging in appliances that are turned on.

Doesn’t unplugging shorten the lifespan of appliances?

There is no evidence that frequent unplugging and plugging harms appliances or shortens their lifespan. Any wear and tear from unplugging is negligible compared to the energy savings.

What about appliances with clocks?

Appliances like stoves, ovens, microwaves, and coffee makers may need to be reprogrammed if unplugged. Consider taking a photo of the clock settings before unplugging to make reprogramming easier.

Is it bad if I only unplug appliances sometimes?

Even occasional, partial unplugging of appliances helps save energy. Do what you can when you remember. Any effort to reduce phantom load leads to savings. Prioritize electronics with high idle power usage.

What about smart strips and automatic timers?

Smart power strips and timers that automatically cut off idle appliances provide an easy alternative to manual unplugging. They do cost more upfront but deliver the same benefits.


Unplugging appliances regularly provides one of the simplest ways to reduce energy waste and save on electricity costs. With minimal effort, most households can save $100 or more a year. Reducing phantom load also helps the environment by cutting energy consumption. Considering implementing an appliance unplugging routine to start benefiting from lower power bills!