Does Unplugging Appliances Save Electricity and Money?

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The need to be more energy conscious is undoubtedly in the air, and while many of us are feeling the pinch when it comes to energy bills, finding a win-win situation is in our best interests.

Does Unplugging Appliances Save Electricity?

So, you’re here because you want to know if unplugging electronics can save electricity, and really what you wanted to ask about money.

Well, the answer is yes, it can.

Almost every appliance we have plugged in uses electricity, even when it’s not in use. Devices that use a ton of electricity even when off are referred to as energy vampires.

energy vampires are appliances that draw power even when they're not being used.

On to more serious matters.

How Much Electricity Is Used by Leaving Things Plugged In?

It’s a fairly small amount per item, but when you consider that every electronic device in your home is drawing watts that you’re not using, this all adds up.

You can get an estimate of how much electricity (and money) you’re wasting for each of your devices by using this phantom load calculator.

Because no one wants a phantom load.

According to the United States Department of Energy, reducing standby power by unplugging unused devices could save the average American household around $100-200 annually. That’s the same, or even more in some cases, as saving an entire month of electricity bills.

On an environmental note, a study by the Natural Resources Defense Council found that unplugging devices in standby mode could reduce 44 million metric tons of carbon dioxide pollution, the same amount used by 9,791,332 gas-powered vehicles every year.

So, Which Appliances Use the Most Electricity?

Appliances with digital displays are some of the worst energy wasters

The worst of these energy vamps are smart devices or appliances with digital displays, such as ovens and microwaves. Kitchen appliances with built-in clocks, like coffee machines, are also sucking your wallet dry by wasting energy. Others include devices that use remote controls and those with thermostats.

Quickly unplug them all!

Does Leaving a Charger Plugged in Use Electricity?

Chargers left plugged in waste energy even if they're not charging a device.

Yep, chargers are some of the most sinister energy suckers around. While they pull very little energy per charger, they’re almost always plugged in, and since most households have multiple chargers for phones, laptops, and tools, unplugging them would help cut your annual energy bill.

This also goes for built-in USB ports and USB cables that are taking teeny tiny drags of your power even when they’re not charging any devices. Luckily, many sockets with USB ports have a switch that turns off the power.

Should I Unplug My TV When It’s Not in Use?

Televisions and other home entertainment appliances left in standby still use energy.

Standby doesn’t mean OFF off, and while it’s convenient to switch on the TV using the remote, instead of walking the extra 5 ft to switch it on, those energy phantoms haunt your set, even when you’re out. If you’re at work most of the day and only use these electronics in the evening, consider turning them off while you’re out.

Pretty much all your home entertainment electronics have the same problem since they can receive a signal from a remote. From DVRs to game consoles, they all use phantom energy even though they’re not turned on.

Does Leaving Lamps Plugged in Use Electricity?

Yep. Especially newer smart lamps. While lone lamps aren’t using that much energy, several left plugged in constantly will.

Which Appliances to Unplug: a Summary

Appliances:

  • in standby mode: computers, games consoles
  • using remote controls: AC units, TVs
  • with displays: microwaves, ovens
  • small kitchen appliances: toaster, kettle
  • modem and router

Chargers: phones, laptops,

Lamps: especially those activated by sound/motion

Reasons to Unplug Your Appliances

  • Save money
  • Lowers your carbon footprint (if your home is powered by energy from fossil fuel power plants)
  • Reduces the risk of an electrical fire – devices that are plugged in constantly are at risk of overheating and catching fire. 2021 statistics taken from the US Fire Association state that electrical faults cause 6.9% of all house fires.
  • Protects your devices from power surges – big or small surges can damage your appliances in one fell swoop or gradually over time.

How to Save Money on Electricity

Think unplugging everything is a bit of a hassle, and you’ll live with throwing away a hundred bucks every year?

Here are some suggestions on saving on your power bills, with minimal effort from you.

Use Power Strips

Use a power strip to reduce

Use a power strip for your home office electronics and another for your entertainment system. Just turn off one switch when you’re finished working or playing instead of unplugging every appliance. And using power strips also prevents power surges from damaging your equipment. Winner.

You could even go one step further and get a Smart Power Strip to set timers that will turn off all your devices while you’re at work or asleep, so you don’t even need to touch a button.

Perform a Home Audit

While a home energy audit does cost you money upfront, you’ll save in the long run. An auditor will scout out where you’re losing energy, check your heating and cooling appliances and advise on energy-saving devices and efficiency.

Choose Devices That Are Less Vampiric

Stay away from appliances that have always-on displays and blinking lights. Other devices like your refrigerator and heater that can’t be turned off can be monitored using smart plugs to reduce energy waste as much as possible.

Upgrade to Energy Efficient Appliances

Upgrading to energy efficient appliances can help save energy.

From home appliances such as dryers and air conditioners to high-impact home improvements, ENERGY STAR energy-efficient products can help you save energy and money in the long run.

It’s not always practical to turn off your electrical appliances, especially in the age of smart devices designed to make our life simpler. However, it is possible to reduce the amount of wasted energy and money, not to mention make your home a safer place with a few small changes and habits.

Hollie Sowden
Hollie Sowden
Originally from the UK, Hollie has lived in Shenzhen, China for just over a decade. With a degree in English Literature and Film, she has been blogging and working in marketing for many years, and is now a copywriter at EcoFlow.

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