How to Save on Your Energy Bill by Unplugging Seldom-Used Appliances
With energy costs on the rise, I’m always looking for ways to reduce my monthly energy bill. One of the easiest things I can do is unplug appliances I’m not using. By cutting power to appliances that are turned off but still plugged in, I can save a surprising amount each month. In this article, I’ll discuss why unplugging seldom-used appliances saves energy and money, which specific appliances to consider unplugging, and tips for making unplugging appliances a habit.
Why Unplugging Saves Energy and Money
Many appliances continue to draw a small amount of power when they are switched off but still plugged in. This is known as phantom load or vampire energy. Some of the biggest energy vampires include:
- Cable and satellite boxes
- Stereos and speakers
- Computers and monitors
- Coffee makers
Individually, each appliance doesn’t use much standby power. But it adds up quickly, especially when I consider all the appliances in my home. According to the US Department of Energy, phantom loads account for 5-10% of the average home’s electricity use. By unplugging just a few select appliances, I can reduce this wasted energy and see savings on my utility bill.
Which Appliances to Unplug
I get the best energy savings by focusing on appliances that aren’t used daily or even regularly. Things I use every day like the refrigerator and stove need to stay plugged in. But many other items can be unplugged most of the time. Here are some top candidates in my home for unplugging:
- TVs – Especially in rooms where it’s only turned on occasionally.
- Cable/satellite boxes – Unplug when not watching TV for extended periods.
- Stereos and speakers – Unless I stream music daily.
- DVD/Blu-ray players – Don’t need constant power.
- Game consoles – Unplug when not in use.
- Toaster ovens – Easy to unplug when not in use.
- Coffee makers – Unplug when not brewing coffee.
- Microwaves – Ideally unplug each time after use.
- Small kitchen electronics – Mixers, food processors, etc.
Home Office Equipment
- Computers and monitors – Turn off and unplug when not in use.
- Printers – Unplug when not printing.
- Scanners – Unplug when not scanning documents.
- Vacuum cleaners – Unplug chargers when not charging.
- Holiday lights – Unplug when not in use.
- Phone chargers – Unplug when not charging.
By focusing on these types of seldom-used appliances, I can make a significant dent in phantom loads.
Tips for Unplugging Appliances
To make unplugging appliances an easy habit, I recommend:
Use power strips – Plug appliances into power strips so you can turn off multiple items at once.
Unplug before long periods of disuse – When leaving town for a trip, unplug anything that won’t be used.
Store appliance manuals nearby – Keep manuals handy so re-plugging is easy.
Set reminders – Use sticky notes or alerts to remind you what to unplug daily or weekly.
Involve the family – Have everyone unplug their own devices and appliances.
Unplug small items – Don’t forget smaller gadgets like phone chargers.
With some diligence about unplugging seldom-used devices, I’ve been able to cut my phantom load by an estimated 20-30%. Over the course of a year, those fewer wasted kilowatt-hours really add up, saving me money each month. Give it a try in your own home and see how much you can save by unplugging!