How to Save on Your Energy Bill by Unplugging Seldom-Used Appliances
With energy prices on the rise, I’m always looking for ways to reduce my monthly bills. One simple way I’ve found to save energy is by unplugging appliances I don’t use very often. While they may seem insignificant, these infrequently used appliances can still draw a small amount of power when plugged in, even when turned “off”. By unplugging them completely, I avoid those hidden energy drains and reduce my energy usage and costs.
In this article, I’ll provide a step-by-step guide on how to identify seldom-used appliances in your home and start saving by unplugging them.
Find the Energy Hogs
The first step is to take a look around your home and identify electronics and appliances that you don’t use daily or even weekly. Typically, the more intermittent the use, the better candidate it is for unplugging. Here are some common infrequently used appliances to look out for:
- Second refrigerator or freezer – If you have an extra fridge or freezer in your garage or basement that doesn’t get opened often.
- Spare room appliances – Any appliances like TVs, lamps, or chargers in guest rooms or other rooms that are occupied infrequently.
- Kitchen specialty appliances – Things like breadmakers, ice cream makers, or food processors that only come out for occasional use.
- Power strips – Check for power strips that may be located in an out of the way spot with devices you haven’t used in awhile still plugged in.
- Seasonal appliances – Fans, space heaters, humidifiers that are only needed at certain times of the year.
I like to periodically take an appliance inventory of my home to identify new seldom-used devices that I can unplug. Any appliance that hasn’t been used in the past month is a good unplugging candidate.
Calculate the Savings
To determine the potential energy savings from unplugging an appliance, you’ll need to know the wattage it consumes. Check the device or its manual for the wattage rating. Then you can use this simple formula to calculate the kWh usage if left plugged in for a full year:
Wattage x 24 hours per day x 365 days x 0.001 kW per W = annual kWh usage
For example, an old refrigerator in the garage that is rated at 100 watts:
100 watts x 24 hrs/day x 365 days x 0.001 kW/W = 876 kWh/year
At an electricity rate of $0.12 per kWh, unplugging that dormant refrigerator would save about $105 per year! Those small savings really add up for all your seldom used appliances.
Safely Unplug Appliances
Once you’ve identified appliances to unplug, make sure to unplug them safely:
- Unplug from wall outlet – Make sure to unplug the appliance directly from the wall outlet. Unplugging from a power strip alone may not stop it from drawing power.
- Check for adaptors – Some devices like phone chargers have adaptors that remain plugged in. Unplug the adaptor itself from the wall outlet.
- Turn off power strips – After unplugging devices, make sure to turn off any power strips to prevent passive power drain.
- Coil cords neatly – Neatly coil any unplugged power cords to avoid tripping hazards.
I also recommend labeling each unplugged appliance with a piece of masking tape indicating it has been powered off. This prevents it from accidentally getting plugged back in.
Remember to Plug Back In When Needed
The key to maintaining energy savings from unplugging appliances is remembering to plug them back in only when you need to actively use them. Avoid leaving them plugged in “just in case”.
- Keep notes on which devices you unplugged and where so you can easily retrieve them when required.
- Prior to any special event or period of frequent use, do an appliance check to make sure necessary devices are powered on.
- Consider getting smart power strips that can automatically turn off peripherals when not needed.
With a bit of appliance vigilance and discipline on only powering devices temporarily when in active use, diligently unplugging seldom-used appliances can become an easy habit and provide ongoing savings.
Unplugging appliances that remain idle for long periods is one of the easiest ways to reduce home energy costs. Small savings from turning off each infrequently used device can really add up over time.
I recommend taking a full inventory of appliances in your home to identify energy hogs to unplug. Calculate potential savings to see the benefit. Make sure to unplug safely and consistently to reap the rewards of reduced energy usage. With this simple habit, you’ll be able to painlessly save on your next energy bill.