If You Want to Save Money and Electricity, Unplug These Home Appliances

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Are you using your appliances at this very minute? If not, you’ll want to consider unplugging them. Even if your appliances are turned off, they could be running certain functions in the background when plugged in. Unplugging them would stop energy from silently draining out and i.

But how much money does unplugging appliances actually save? Is the energy savings you get from unplugging appliances even significant? And is it worth the annoyance to constantly be plugging and unplugging appliances? Below we’ll explore why unplugging appliances can lead to savings, how much you could stand to save and ways to help make disabling plugged-in appliances easier. 

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Why does unplugging appliances save money? 

It seems counterintuitive to unplug appliances. After all, they’re off, so why would they be sucking up energy?

The fact is, your appliances actually still use energy even when they are turned off but still plugged in, according to . Whether the device is switched off or in standby mode, some of the worst offenders are: 

  • A device that may still use energy in the form of permanently on lights or other displays showing the device is off 
  • Computers that were simply put into sleep mode
  • Chargers that still draw power even if the device is not connected
  • Media players that continually draw power, especially ones that still might scan for updates in the background
  • Phones with displays that show when not in active use, like cordless phones
  • New smart home appliances like refrigerators, washers and dryers that have always-on displays, internet connectivity and electronic controls

The energy that gets used from these devices while not in active use is often called standby power, but it also goes by other names like phantom load, shadow loads, idle current or even vampire power.

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Electricity and money savings from controlling standby power 

Many people are shocked to realize how much standby power can add up. Standby power accounts for 5-10% of residential energy use, according to . Unplugging devices could save the average household up to $100 per year.

However, how much you save could depend on how many devices you use and your habits with them. For instance, an educational experiment from found that a combo radio/CD player/tape player used 4 watts continually whether it was in use or not. Unplugging it when not in use would save 100 times as much power during the lifetime of the device.

A study out of  found that reducing the load from always-on devices would save consumers a total of $8 billion annually and avoid using 64 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity per year. It also has environmental benefits, like preventing 44 million metric tons of carbon dioxide pollution. The NRDC estimated the cost of always-on devices at up to $165 per household per year on average.

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